Health Beat: Official Publication of Prince George’s Hospital Center

Brian Boyle on the Cover of the Winter Issue of Health Beat

A Story of Survival

by Luis Corpin, MS, RN, CNOR 

“In 2004 after his swim practice, Brian Boyle was involved in a very serious car accident with a dump truck. The accident was so bad the impact fractured most of his ribs collapsing his lungs and shifting his heart to one side. In addition, the accident fractured his pelvis causing severe blood loss, a fractured clavicle resulting in nerve damage to his left shoulder, and traumatic coma as a result. He was airlifted to Prince George’s Hospital Center where the best and experienced traumatologists worked non-stop to keep him alive. According to the Prince George’s Hospital Center’s staff familiar with his struggles, he coded eight times because of his injuries while he was in ICU, on life support, but the experienced staff always managed to bring him back. When he finally came out of the coma, he could neither talk nor communicate. His will to fight to be alive was so strong with the support of his loved ones and the hospital staff. The day he left the hospital for home was a triumph. The staff knew he was going to make it. 

With multiple fractures and injuries, walking seemed to be impossible. Brian spent sometime recuperating in a wheelchair. After a few months and as soon as he regained his strength, he started walking using baby steps. He practically had to re-learn how to talk, eat, walk, shower, and live independently with the help of a rehabilitation center in Baltimore. Today, several years later, Brian beats the odds. He proved them wrong who said he will never be able to walk and live a normal life. He not only walks, but runs, bikes, and swims. 

His strong will to live proves anyone can overcome injuries and pursue his/her dreams. After recuperating and waking from a nightmare of his life, Brian competed successfully in the 2007 and 2008 Ford Ironman World Championship held in Kona, Hawaii and Clearwater, Florida.

In June of 2009, he competed in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon held in San Francisco. Afterwards, in July the Nautica New York City Triathlon. Not stopping his momentum, in October, he again competed in the Baltimore marathon and the Marine Corps marathon in memory of his grandfather who was in the Marine Corps that fought in WW2. Continuing in November, he competed again in the New York City marathon, the Suntrust Richmond marathon, and the Philadelphia marathon all in one month. 

Chronicling his experiences and how he beat the odds, he has published a book entitled “Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back from the Dead” which he dedicated to Prince George’s Hospital Center, the hospital that brought him back after a horrific accident. The book is available online, various book stores, and the Hospital gift shop. He thanks Prince George’s Hospital Center for saving his life. He now has a different outlook in life, he tells others to savor the moments and make life the best you can make it.

Brian will continue to beat the odds and prove them wrong, strength comes from within and helps you shape what you want to accomplish in life.”


Iron Heart Book Review by Tri-DC magazine

Brian Boyle on the cover of the 2010 winter issue of Tri-DC magazine

2010 Winter Issue

Reviewed by Shannon Hicok

“Brian Boyle is an Ironman. 

For most, that would be life’s greatest achievement; but for Brian, life itself is the achievement – becoming an Ironman is simply the icing on the cake.  “Iron Heart” chronicles Brian’s journey from a clinically-dead car accident victim to a full-fledged Kona Ironman.  It is the ultimate story of perseverance, strength, family unity, and triumph.

The book begins as Brian’s eyes open in the hospital after a horrific car accident.  Written in the first person, it allows you to feel the confusion and frustration Brian felt as he slowly realized what had happened to him, and why he could not speak, move, or communicate in any way.  Nearly every part of Brian’s athletic body had been severely damaged when a dump truck collided with the driver’s side of his Camaro.  As he would find out later, his athleticism is probably the only reason he was able to live through the excruciating physical ordeal of his recovery.

“Iron Heart: The Story of How I Came Back From the Dead” is one of those books that you just can’t put down.  I found myself wondering what could possibly happen next as I read about each obstacle Brian faced in his recovery.  From his first few blinks and the nightmare of being weaned off the life-saving but highly addictive pain medications to learning to walk and talk again. Brian even articulates the torture of constant boredom as his slow and painful physical and emotional recovery progressed.  His determination is incredibly inspirational as he goes from a self-proclaimed “skeleton boy” back to a slightly obsessive, muscular athlete.

The second half of the book, which focuses on Brian’s newfound “hobby” of triathlon, illustrates just how far strength of spirit can take you.  After contacting Peter Henning of Ironman on a whim in July of 2007, Brian learned that his story was worthy of Ironman Kona television coverage – if he could prove himself able by completing a 70.3 race first.  For someone who had literally “come back from the dead,” how hard could a day of competition be? So, despite never having done a triathlon, Brian the bodybuilder began training for his first – the Steelhead 70.3 in Michigan.  The truly amazing and slightly ridiculous part of the story is – the race was in two weeks! Of course there was no doubt about the outcome – Brian completed his 70.3 race and made it to the “big race” in Hawaii.  The book features humorous moments during his three months of Ironman training, like the fellow 70.3 swim competitor who told Brian, “With all those muscles, you might sink to the bottom.” Through everything, Brian’s determination was unwavering – and of course, this part of his journey ended on Ali’I drive under the Ironman banner.

Throughout this story, Brian gives credit where it is due.  He acknowledges everyone and everything that helped him remain focused on life and health.  Music, letters, emails, visits from friends and family, dedicated health care workers, and above all the love and commitment of his parents, Garth and JoAnne, helped to pull Brian back into the world of the living.

Iron Heart reminds us that life is a truly precious gift, and it is what you make of it; that strength of spirit can overcome just about anything; and that, as Brian says, “Any day when you’re not in a coma is a great day!”