When the U.S. entered World War II in 1941, the U.S. military asked the American Red Cross to create and operate a national blood program to support the troops. Dr. Charles Drew, a hematologist, surgeon, educator and scientist, turned his skills to the development of dried plasma. He supervised the pilot Red Cross blood banking program which was established in 1941. His groundbreaking research made it possible to store plasma for later use, revolutionizing modern medicine. Americans donated millions of pints of blood for the war effort and his innovation enabled those donations to save the lives of countless casualties of war
Mankind suffered a great loss in 1950 when, at the age of 45, Dr. Drew was killed in an automobile accident while driving to a scientific conference. His pioneering medical work has endured. How many lives have been saved because of his genius at turning basic biological research into practical production methods is impossible to determine.
Over the years, Drew has been considered one of the most honored and respected figures in the medical field and his development of the blood plasma bank has given a second chance of life to millions.
The Charles R. Drew Award is designed to preserve the memory of Dr. Drew’s contributions to the American Red Cross Blood Services. The award is presented to a volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to strengthening and improving blood services.
The 2011 Charles R. Drew Award recipient is Red Cross volunteer Brian Boyle.
Brian Boyle is a Red Cross blood recipient, donor and volunteer. He is currently 25 years old and lives in Southern Maryland. Since 2007, Brian Boyle has devoted his life’s activities to supporting the American Red Cross and its mission to help others. Brian’s support encourages thousands of Red Cross blood donations locally and nationally. Brian supports the Red Cross by speaking publicly, interviewing with news media, competing in athletic competitions, in a limited-edition of his autobiography, Iron Heart, and as a blood donor and advocate of blood donation.
In 2004, 18-year-old Brian Boyle’s future changed in an instant when a dump truck plowed into his vehicle. He was airlifted to a shock-trauma hospital. Brian had lost sixty percent of his blood, his heart had moved across his chest, and his organs and pelvis were pulverized. He received 36 Red Cross blood transfusions and plamsa treatments and underwent 14 operations. Because of the severe pain and injuries, Brian was placed in a medically-induced coma.
Brian defied all laws of medicine and logic and he clawed his way back to the living. First blinking his eyelids, then squeezing a hand, then smiling, he emerged from his locked-in state and was determined to recover. During the recovery, while bound to a wheelchair he made a commitment to himself: if he could ever walk and talk again, he would share his story in a positive way to help others. Eventually, Brian learned of the 36 units of donated Red Cross blood that he received and he was intrigued that they came from volunteer donors who gave part of themselves to help save his life.
After months of physical therapy and rehabilitation, Brian learned how to walk again and he learned how to run, and run very well. Against all predictions, Brian Boyle crossed the finish line at the 2007 Hawaii Ironman, the most grueling athletic competition in the world, just three years after leaving the Intensive Care Unit at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, MD. That same year, Brian started volunteering as a public speaker in support of the Red Cross. He continues to share his personal message about how blood donors were a vital factor in his recovery and he asks others to donate blood with their local Red Cross.
In 2009, he published his first book, Iron Heart, a firsthand account of his journey back to life. Following its release, Brian worked with his publisher to then create a limited-edition including a Red Cross cover and Brian’s personal message to blood donors. Brian then hosted and attended a series of Iron Heart blood drives with more than 1,000 participants. Brian attended these blood drives to meet and thank each participant and provided them with a limited-edition and signed copy of his book, Iron Heart. He also made his very first blood donation at the hospital that brought him back to life.
His story of courage and determination continues to be shared around the world and Brian continues to compete. Brian has recently competed in more than 20 running, marathon, Ironman and triathlon events. During every race, Brian proudly wore the American Red Cross logo as a tribute to the blood donors that helped to save his life.
Brian’s message extends to audiences of all ages, races, religions and his story inspires people from all walks of life. His volunteer commitment to help others by sharing his story in a variety of ways is unsurpassed and Brian has undoubtedly touched the lives of many with his inspiring message.
Brian not only represents the Red Cross, Brian is the Red Cross.