Running the Marine Corps Marathon for Team Red Cross

Boyle_MarineCorpsOn Sunday, October 28th, I had the privilege of running in the Marine Corps marathon for Team Red Cross. This was my third time running in this prestigious event and the weather conditions were the best I ever experienced in any past marathon event.

Standing at the start line right before the race began, I just stared down at my running shoes and reflected back to this time frame 14 years ago when I was relearning how to walk again after leaving the ICU.

Back then it was a monumental achievement just trying to slide my feet a few inches at a time while I carefully balancing my body weight with a walking cane in each hand. Each therapy session began with that first triumphant step with a smile on my face, followed by the next step. Three steps in and the smile was gone. My hands began clenching the sides of the walker by step four, legs almost beginning to buckle. My breathing  became heavier as sweat began to form on my forehead as the frustration set in. By the fifth step my lower back would tighten and cause my head and neck to droop forward causing gravity to add even more difficulty to the moment.

Back then the goal was just to walk five steps for my physical therapy session, and those five steps were not always reached unfortunately. Last Sunday, the goal was to run 26.2 miles, or about 55,300 steps to complete.

In every one of the five dozen endurance events that I’ve competed in over the past 11 years, I reflect on this memory each time as my motivation. The human spirit is truly an amazing thing.

As the marathon began, I looked around at the thousands of runners that were around me in all directions and I thought about what moment in their life inspired them to pursue this goal. I waved at all the dedicated Marines that lined the course to help support this event and studied the various military backgrounds and patriotic symbols that I saw on the backs of the runners in front of me.

I also thought about my grandfather, William Boyle, a Marine who served in the Pacific in World War II and how he was the youngest person to enlist in the war from his small town of Irwin, Pennsylvania. I thought about my grandfather, Joe Lineberger, who received the Bronze Star in Vietnam and spanned a career serving our country for over 64 years. My mind raced back to all the stories that my grandfathers shared with me, the U.S. history classes I took, all the textbooks, patriotic images and history projects I worked on in school. I stared at the historic landmarks and memorials as I ran by and truly felt the history of our great nation.

As I glanced down at my Team Red Cross shirt that I was given to wear for this race, I felt a sense of pride being a part of this great team. On my race bib I wrote down the names of all the generous people who supported my race campaign by either making a financial donation or pledging to donate blood at a future blood drive. I’m very grateful to these people because with their help, I was able to raise $1,125 that would go to support the Red Cross mission across all lines of service. I was also able to encourage 27 people to pledge to donate blood for my SleevesUp virtual blood drive. As a blood recipient and proud supporter of the Red Cross, it meant so much having their support for this event.

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Thanks to everyone who supported my Team Red Cross campaign! (Photo: list of names written on the back of my race bib)

As I approached the finish line, I reflected on the journey, not just in the past 26 miles, but also the journey of life itself. I thought about the months of training that led up to this race, and the encouragement from family and friends as well as everyone who supported my Team Red Cross campaign.

As I made my way to the finish line, I slowed the pace down and took in the moment. I smiled as a I crossed the line, grateful for each step that it took to accomplish the goal.





Book review of Swim Bark Run in Triathlete Magazine


July, 2018

Want to get your kiddos into triathlon? Do it with doggos! This charming illustrated children’s book follows Daisy the Bulldog as she cheers for her owner at his races, then decides to put on her own K9 event with her three buddies. Rascal the Dachsund takes over race director responsibilities, and the race planning gets underway. Obviously, doggos can’t bike, but they can skateboard! Adorableness and life lessons ensue – like how to persevere when the going gets tough, and that sometimes it’s important to put others before yourself. If you want to teach your pups to win at all costs, this book isn’t for you. If you want to teach them to find joy in being out there and supporting friends, grab Swim Bark Run pronto. We tested it on Triathlete’s resident 19-month-old and she instantly fell in love with the chubby-cheeked Daisy and her race mantra: “Go, Daisy go! Swim, bark, run. Go Daisy go, just have fun!” –Erin Beresini, Editor-in-Chief, Triathlete Magazine


New children’s book now available: Swim Bark Run

SWIM BARK RUN_ART (2)Daisy the Bulldog has gone to every one of her owner’s triathlons. She’s proud of his athletic accomplishments, and is always there to greet him at the finish line.

Daisy wonders if she could train and compete for an event like that. So she gets her doggy friends, Rascal the Dachshund, Atticus the Corgi, and Hobie the Dalmation to make their own dog-athalon.

They plot a course through the park and train daily: swimming across the pond, skateboarding down the sidewalks, running up and down the hill.

Finally, it’s the big day, and the poochy pals couldn’t be more excited. The course is tough, but they help one another along the way, cheering to keep going, challenging to do their very best.

On the final hill, Daisy’s tired and not sure she can make it to the finish line―until she spots a familiar (human) face, rooting for her along the way. “Go, Daisy, go! Swim, bark, run. Go, Daisy, go! Just have fun!”

A charming celebration of setting goals and staying active, SWIM BARK RUN demonstrates that with determination and teamwork, everyone’s a winner.

If you would like an autographed copy, they can be ordered through this website.



brianboyle_recovery_100Every two seconds somebody in the U.S. needs blood. As a former trauma patient, I experienced this firsthand back in 2004.

My story begins one month after graduating from high school. I was coming home from swim practice, and I was involved in a near fatal car accident. The impact of the crash shifted my heart across my chest and collapsed my lungs. Just like my dreams for the future, my ribs, pelvis, and left clavicle were shattered. I sustained damage to practically every major organ in my body, including laceration of the liver and kidneys, and I experienced 60 percent blood loss.

Using the jaws of life, the rescue squads and firefighters had to free me from the wreckage at the accident scene. They later received awards for their abilities in rescuing me. I was immediately medevaced to the local trauma center. I was practically dead on arrival when I arrived at the hospital. I was soon given the last rites and my parents had to make the difficult decision to invite my family and friends to come say their final goodbyes, because it would be a miracle if I could survive the first 24 hours.

I survived the first day, followed by the second, and I would ultimately spend the next two months on life support in a coma. During this time frame, I underwent 14 major operations, received 36 blood transfusions and 13 plasma treatments. I ended up losing a total of 100 pounds. I remember overhearing that there was a strong possibility that I would spend the rest of my life in a nursing home in a vegetative state.

I’ll never forget the pain and suffering in the eyes of my parents, and I soon realized that what they were experiencing was far worse than my own pain. After a little over a month and a half, I began making my slow comeback from my paralyzed state. Starting with the blinking of an eye, the most subtle shake of a hand and eventually a faint smile, my parents knew that I was still there and fighting for them.

I began several months of intense physical therapy where I had to relearn how to talk, eat, tie my shoes, take a shower, and eventually walk with a cane. One year after the accident, I was beginning my freshman year in college and I had the fortunate opportunity to swim in the first swim meet. In October 2007, the healing was finally complete when I crossed the finish line of the Hawaii Ironman triathlon.

To show my sincere gratitude, I went back to the rescue squads and various hospitals to thank these amazing people firsthand. I soon began speaking with other patients and families to offer support, motivation, and help them navigate as they began their journeys of healing. To further help improve the patient experience, I became a dedicated patient and healthcare advocate and began traveling the world speaking with medical organizations, hospital associations, and many patients and families about
their experiences in the health care setting.

After many conversations with my care providers, I became aware that there was also another group of people that played a very important role in my survival — my 36 blood donors.

For more than a decade, I have proudly supported the Red Cross mission by hosting dozens of blood drives across the country, donating blood on several occasions, speaking at hundreds of events to raise awareness on the importance of blood donation, participating in more than five dozen endurance events wearing 36 tiny red crosses on my race suit in honor of my blood donors. I wanted to do all that I could to offer support for patients in need.

I received 36 blood transfusions over the course of my emergency treatment and recovery. I think about these selfless people every single day. Their blood was not only lifesaving, but also lifegiving.

Since my trauma, I’ve been able to make a full recovery, finish college, go on to earn my master’s degreeat Johns Hopkins University and get married in 2013. My most cherished moment over the years came about last July when my wife and I welcomed our first child into this world, a daughter that we named Clara in honor of Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross.

As a former trauma patient and blood recipient, I have dedicated my life to supporting the Red Cross mission. By giving just one hour of their time, my blood donors not only helped give me the chance at a lifetime, but to also bring new life into this world.

To help meet the needs of trauma patients, please consider giving blood or platelets or hosting a blood drive with the Red Cross. Find opportunities at:

UltraRunning Magazine: One Hundred Miles of Gratitude

IMG_5039UltraRunning Magazine

March 2018 issue

The adrenaline was electric at the starting line of the Devil Dog 100 ultramarathon in Prince William Forest Park, Virginia. It was 5:59 a.m. on December 2, 2017 and with only a minute to go, I glanced at the faces around me, their physical and emotional energy glowing under their headlamps, and I wondered what motivated all these incredible athletes to pursue this event. As for me, I glanced down at my bib number where I had written the names of 170 generous people that pledged to donate blood to support my Red Cross virtual blood drive – they were my motivation.

The gun went off and I focused in on running one mile at a time, hoping that the past six months of training would get me to the finish line. The first loop, miles 1-20, went by in a steady blur as I charted out various markers on the course to be aware of for the upcoming laps. Early on, I stayed with a pack of runners in a single file line at a 10-minute-per-mile pace, our headlamps illuminating the course in front of us. I continuously studied the course in front of me, on alert for any root, rock or any hidden debris that could twist an ankle or worse. In the sub-freezing temperature, I kept trying to blow my exhaled breath downward so it didn’t cloud my foot placement. The last third of the loop included a variety of technical inclines that forced me to slow the pace to a careful walk.

The second loop, miles 21-40, the pace remained steady. With the energy still high, I spoke to several of the runners that had  shared the same pace – learning where they were from, how many ultras they completed, what their estimated finish time was and other information.

Once I reached the halfway mark during the third lap (miles 41-60), I felt a sense of reassurance. Right before the sun went down, I was able to see my parents at an aid station. We were very happy to see each other, even if only for a few short minutes, but it was enough to give me some much needed inspiration.

On the fourth lap, miles 60-80, I felt a surge of energy and increased the pace for as long as I could. I knew I had to conserve energy for the last loop, but I wanted to make the most of this second wind that I had after seeing my parents.

By mile 92, the surge slowed back down and I alternated a fast walk/jog strategy. Through the trees, I watched the sun begin to slowly rise and I could hear the sounds of nature and wildlife preparing for the new day – the birds, insects, and the sound of my tired feet crunching through the path covered in leaves. I breathed in deeply as I reflected on how magical this moment was, noticing that the sun’s reflection off the tiny dew droplets looked like thousands of diamonds in every direction. Watching the sunrise was an awakening for the mind, body and spirit.

With a few miles left, I was reduced to a moderate walk and I kept glancing at my watch to see my pace and the time, but most of all my heart rate.

Watching the blinking heart icon made me reflect on how special this event was and just how amazing it is to be alive. Thirteen years earlier, I was in ICU in critical condition, in a coma for two months, resuscitated eight times, and was given 36 blood transfusions and 13 plasma treatments throughout my 14 lifesaving operations. I had been in a near fatal-car accident coming home after swim practice.

And now, here I was celebrating 10 years of competing in endurance sports and approaching the finish line. I looked down at my bib number that included the 170 names. As a blood recipient, these generous people were my motivation to not only start this race, but to also get to the finish line.

After 26 hours and 48 minutes, I crossed the finish line through the support of my parents, wife, four-month-old daughter Clara, and my Red Cross colleagues, Donna and Kamenna. In my years of competing in endurance sports, I’ve learned that a race may be run alone, but in no way is it ever an individual effort. I was able to improve my 100 mile time by 3 hours and surprisingly place ninth overall, enjoying every mile, breath, and heartbeat along the way.


Quality and Safety in Healthcare

CgfQdjgW8AAsKPxI was recently given the invitation by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to give a keynote presentation at the International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare. The Forum took place in Gothenburg, Sweden and the audience consisted of 3,300 healthcare professionals who are making an impact in quality improvement and patient safety.


The mission of the International Forum is to support the movement for healthcare improvement, to improve outcomes for patients and communities, provide practical ideas that can be implemented in the workplace, promote research into quality and safety improvement, and connect healthcare leaders and practitioners worldwide. These aims are met by bringing together a very international group of people that range from chief executives and government officials to healthcare managers and clinicians who share a concern and a passion for improving quality and safety in healthcare.


My presentation was based on my healthcare advocacy along with my personal experiences of being a former ICU patient and the three year journey it took for me to make a full recovery. During my time as a patient, I was inspired by the level of care I received from my healthcare providers, and this treatment inspired me to want to speak on behalf of the patient experience when I left the hospital in 2004.


Over the years, I have been presenting on this topic hundreds of times within the United States in order to improve the experience for not only other patients and their families, but also the care providers looking after them. Back in the summer of 2004, my goal was just to survive, but now it is more than that. It is about being a voice for patients and families as they go through their journeys in the hospital.


It was very exciting to be able to speak and visit with so many international healthcare professionals from a variety of background because I was able to listen to their experiences and backgrounds regarding measures they’re taking to improve quality and safety. As a former patient, this was a meaningful discussion to be a part of and witness firsthand.


Every patient has a story and an experience, and healthcare providers all over the world are in a position to help navigate their patients throughout their personal journeys of healing. You walk into the patient’s room and the goal is to, first, treat the body, and then, heal the person. You do everything in your power to help treat the injuries, symptoms, disease, and then you go about healing them by making a connection with them, communicating to them, and showing empathy and compassion. When you do this, you are not only focusing your efforts on quality and safety in healthcare, but you are also improving the patient experience.

Article in ‘Patient Experience Journal’: The critical role of family in patient experience

0109421Editors Note Through his story of a near life ending event to a recovery that continues to inspire so many around the world, Brian’s greatest gift in the authentic passion he brings to the topic of the patient experience. Inspired by those who in his darkest hours still honored him for the individual he was and the humanity he represented, Brian continues to strive to elevate the conversation on the little things we can do to have big impact on people’s lives. Brian’s latest book, The Patient Experience: The Importance of Care, Communication, and Compassion in the Hospital Room, continues his contribution to the patient experience conversation as an advocate for all the good that can be done in healthcare every day.

The world is full of unknowns. We were a normal family living a happy life, and then one day, a near fatal car accident changed everything. On July 6, 2004, I was on my way home from swim practice and was involved in a near fatal car accident with a speeding dump truck. The injuries were catastrophic. I lost 60% of my blood, my heart was ripped across my chest, lungs collapsed, and my major organs and pelvis were pulverized. I had to be brought back to life eight times on the operating table. The life that my parents and I knew was shattered. For the next few months, we were constantly faced with unfathomable uncertainty and total despair.

While in a two-month long medically induced coma, I was unable to move or talk to anyone around me, yet I was able to hear, see, and feel pain for a majority of my time on life support in the Intensive Care Unit. As a family, we never thought that we would face such a traumatic situation, or rather, such a horrific nightmare. We were thrown into a place consisting of surgeries, machines, tubes, blood, and medical terms that caused utter confusion. We were in the hands of my medical team, and a few of them even said I was “in God’s hands.”

As a patient, or the loved one of a patient, life seems to go on standby when you enter this atmosphere. You frequently come face to face with the strength of the human spirit and the perseverance of the mind and the body. Throughout this entire ordeal, my parents and I experienced how unforgiving life can be and how it can drastically change in the blink of an eye. There was no guidebook or support group to prepare us for what we were in for as a family.

Communication was so important to us in the hospital setting because it helped us prepare for what was around the corner. My favorite care providers — my “dream team” members — were the men and women that came into my room with a positive presence, spoke to us, got to know me and my parents, and made a sincere connection with us as a family. This engagement meant a lot to us because it built a foundation of trust and friendship, which was a comforting sense of familiarity in an unfamiliar environment.

Most of my physical pain was taken care of with the help of morphine and heavy sedation that was continuously being pumped into my nearly lifeless body. I may have been the patient laying in the hospital bed, I was not the only one in that room who was suffering. My parents didn’t have morphine to take away their pain that began the moment they received a phone call from my hospital alerting them about my critical condition. That phone call changed our family, and as much as we have persevered over the years, the entire experience still lingers as if it were yesterday.

In my situation, as a patient clinging to life in room 19 of ICU, I did everything I possibly could to show any positive signs of life to my parents because I knew they were having a really difficult time. They did their best to stay strong. As a family, we experienced good days and bad days in the hospital regarding my recovery, and some days were just devastating. But, seeing my parents next to my hospital bed gave me hope.

When I was being weaned off the heavy sedation, I did everything I could to show them that I was aware of their presence because I could see how much happiness it brought to them. A smile, a blink of an eye, a twitch of the finger may have been just subtle signs of activity, but that was physical proof that I still existed and was desperately clawing my way back to life. Having my parents there with me in the hospital meant everything to me. Growing up, they were my role models, my friends, my supporters — and in the hospital, my guardian angels.

I often reflect back on my time in ICU as a team effort, between myself and my care team, and also with my parents, family, and friends. The loved ones of a patient are an integral part of the overall care plan, and that is why I believe in patient and family centered care. In this day in age, the patient experience is a very important focus and discussion. But, we must always be willing to look one step further and be aware of the experiences of both the patient and their family in the hospital setting.

Assuming that a healthy and stable relationship exists, the family knows the patient better than anyone else in the world because they have spent years living with or in close proximity with this person who is now the patient. In the hospital, you can spend a few minutes or even a few hours with a patient in order to get to know their likes and dislikes, as well as a brief understanding of their background. However, no matter how much time you spend with a patient, the family, especially the parents, guardians, or spouse, will have the advantage when it comes to knowing the patient best. For a younger patient, the maternal and paternal bond develops when their child is born, and this genetically acquired connection is so powerful that they are able to recognize practically imperceptible physical and behavioral changes when nobody else can. The family and friends will typically know the common gestures, movements, body language, personality traits, inner thoughts, idiosyncrasies, behaviors, and typical phrases and concerns of their loved one.

On numerous occasions where I have talked to parents about their children who were unconscious, comatose, or in a catatonic state, they discussed with me how they were often aware of the feelings and emotions of their children — even though there were no words actually being spoken. The patient’s body may appear almost lifeless to anybody else in the room, but to the parents, there is almost a telepathic interaction that takes place where they can see visible signs of life. Their level of awareness originates from their love, which is unbounded by the normal limits of science and medicine.

As the patient is recovering, this is only the beginning of the journey for the family. They have questions, thoughts, and concerns about how the life they once knew has now gone on standby. Including the family in the treatment plan is important, and I have learned over the years that just taking the time to listen to the questions and concerns from the patient and family means so much. Even if an answer can not be given, just the fact that their concerns were listened to and addressed goes a long way with the healing process.

When communicating to the family, it is helpful to:

  • Establish a point of contact in the family to relay information to the rest of the family and friends.
  • Create website to share information regarding the patient with family and friends (e.g. CaringBridge).
  • Review information regarding the hospital procedures, visiting hours, important contacts and their phone numbers.
  • Be aware of what you are saying, but also how you are saying it.
  • Speak in a gentle tone of voice, using their names and the name of the patient.
  •  Try to form a connection in order to build a sense of trust.
  • Reflect on the type of family you are talking to.
  • Provide realistic expectations.
  • If you can’t answer their question, just taking the time to listen helps a lot.

When you are focusing on the goals for the patient’s recovery, the doctors work with the nurses, specialists, and patient’s family to decide on the appropriate care plan for the patient on both a short- and long-term basis. It is vital that this multi-disciplinary approach occurs during the formation of the care plan and is frequently updated as time goes on. The loved ones of a patient may not have a medical license or healthcare background, but their voice and presence matters in the hospital room. Similar to a mechanical system of interlocked gears, the communication between the patient, family, and health care providers is very important throughout the entire recovery process.

Each group spends time observing the patient, therefore every group can contribute to the overall treatment plan. There are so many advantages to taking this approach because every voice is heard, every concern is addressed, and every potential approach is analyzed by the overall team before a plan is pursued. This plan is truly enriched because all contributing groups provide their input, helping get the patient from their current state of being sick or injured onto a path of recovery.

The full article can be found here.


‘The Patient Experience’ Book Review in Nursing Standard (United Kingdom)


Nursing Standard is the UK’s best selling nursing journal and the ultimate resource for students and fully qualified nurses.


The Patient Experience: The Importance of Care, Communication and Compassion in the Hospital Room

Reviewed by: Paul Jebb, Experience of Care Professional Lead – NHS England

The author’s personal account of his experience as a patient forms the basis of this book. After a car accident, Brian Boyle was in a medically-induced coma for two months and was unable to move and talk, but he was still able to hear, see and feel pain. He relied on his caregivers and family.

The book discusses and reflects on the personal care he received and how healthcare teams delivered patient-centered and family-centered care.

Offering an extraordinary glimpse into the perspectives of the patient and family, the book inspires the reader to understand how compassionate, patient-centered care can eventually improve outcomes for patients.

Topics include recognizing the feelings and emotions of the patient, identifying simple methods that can help to provide emotional support, and understanding the motivational role that communication has for the healthcare provider, patient and their family.

The text is a must-read for healthcare staff working at all levels and from every background. Its valuable insight into the experiences of patients will prompt staff to reflect on and understand the important role that caregivers can play in changing outcomes.

Read more…