Posts Tagged ‘accident

23
Aug
12

IRONMANLIFE: BRIAN BOYLE’S AMAZING JOURNEY

ImageWant a good reason to donate blood? Meet Brian Boyle, who is a national spokesperson and volunteer for the American Red Cross.

Kevin Mackinnon profiles an amazing IRONMAN survivor, Ironman.com

Boyle is passionate about what the Red Cross does because, were it not for the 36 blood transfusions he received, he wouldn’t be alive, let alone finishing yet another Ironman, which the 26-year-old did last Saturday in New York.

On July 6, 2004, Boyle was driving home from swim practice when he was involved in near-fatal car accident with a speeding dump truck. How “near-fatal?”

“My heart went across my chest, my ribs were shattered, my pelvis was shattered, I broke my left clavicle, I had a collapsed lung and I lost about 60 percent of my blood,” he told me in an interview last Thursday.

After his accident, he died eight times, only to be revived by the medical staff. Boyle went through 14 different operations, had those 36 blood transfusions and was in a coma for two months. When he finally came around, he started the long road back to recovery.

Boyle would eventually return to his college swim team. Three years after his accident, he finished the IRONMAN World Championship.

“That race was so significant because going through the recovery process I felt so limited,” he says. “I felt like Brian the sick boy, the skeleton in the wheelchair. It took something as extreme as the Ironman to complete the healing. That day was a great day, the best day of my life.”

Boyle hasn’t just settled to with that, though. He’s gone on to use his journey to help so many others. It’s a miracle he had enough energy to get to the start line in New York last week – he’d spent most of the week before raising awareness for the American Red Cross, which is facing 15-year-low in blood donations right now.

“Brian has done a tremendous amount to raise awareness about the need for blood,” says Donna Morrissey from the American Red Cross. “Brian is the type of person who connects one on one or in a group of hundreds. By sharing his story Brian gives people hope and enables people to have strength. In the end he inspires people to give blood or make a difference in their community. He’s just this extraordinary individual that connects with people and puts the needs of others first. He’s someone who never gives up. Can you imagine someone dying eight times, but then coming back and competing in, and completing, the IRONMAN several times? Those two things, in themselves, are something most people couldn’t imagine ever doing. He is bringing together the IRONMAN competition – what it takes to be this extreme athlete, but also the heroism of a generous volunteer blood donor who comes in and gives to help others.”

The Aquadraat IRONMAN U.S. Championship won’t likely be the last time we’ll see Brian Boyle at an IRONMAN. Boyle was inspired by the “stories and the race” growing up, which is one of the reasons he was so determined to complete an IRONMAN after his accident.

Last Saturday Boyle finished in New York in just under 11 hours. It wasn’t quite the sub-10 he was hoping for, but an impressive time considering the tough course. An impressive time considering the fact that if he was a cat he’d be on his last life.

Boyle is the living embodiment of what we call the IRONMAN spirit. He’s just taken it even further – he’s showing us all how important it is to remember our human spirit and help others, too.

01
May
12

American Red Cross Annual Report: Brian Boyle

"A blood donation can make the difference between life and death. I am living proof of this." - Brian Boyle, volunteer, blood recipient/donor

RACING TOWARD LIFE

July 6, 2004. One moment, 18-year-old Brian Boyle was driving home from swim practice. The next, he was in a hospital bed, unable to speak or move. A natural athlete, Brian was now using all his lessons learned from team sports to survive. “Sometimes you do everything right, and life still doesn’t follow the path you thought you’d be on,” he says.

A dump truck had broadsided his car, and he needed immediate surgery. His heart had been pushed from one side of his chest to the other. He was resuscitated eight times. The only physical hope for his survival was the gift of blood. Sixty percent of Brian’s blood was replaced through transfusions given by volunteer donors.

As he inched his way back to life, Brian wanted to reassure his parents. “I was their only child,” he says. “I wanted to give them a sign I hadn’t stopped fighting. What better way than to smile?” Then, gradually, he squeezed hands, wiggled his fingers, and blinked. “Once I was able to talk, I never wanted to be quiet again,” he laughs.

Two months later, when Brian entered rehab, he knew he wanted to make a difference. “I was alive! I wanted to take my experiences and help others. I started at the very foundation of my recovery—the blood donors, who were there from the get-go.”

He began by giving testimonials and speaking about blood donation, then by sponsoring 5K races for blood donation, still later by hosting blood drives. Now as a volunteer spokesperson for national blood campaigns, he wears the American Red Cross emblem proudly at all his athletic events.

“Blood is needed every day for emergencies like mine, as well as for those with chronic conditions. For nearly 5 million people every year, a blood donation can make the difference between life and death. I am living proof of this.”

Brian’s determination and athletic spirit led to a rapid recovery. He’d make a new goal every day. By December, he was walking and, soon after, started swimming. Several months later, he stepped onto his new college campus and swam his first stroke with his college team.

Now there was no holding Brian back. In 2007, Brian finished his first Ironman triathlon. “I had lost 100pounds and had only weeks to train for it,”he says. “My story of survival made me believe I could attempt these races. When I crossed the finish line, I knew I was fully healed.”

In 2009, Brian made his own first blood donation at the hospital that brought him back to life. Brian graduated from college with honors and is now a public speaker about the patient’s perspective when dealing with health issues. “My work with the Red Cross has made all the pain and suffering worthwhile,” he says. “I am blessed.”

Today, Brian blogs about racing and blood donation at redcrossblood.org/ironheart

And to watch the video that accompanies this article, please visit the American Red Cross Annual Report website.




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