Boyle was 18 years old when the force of a horrific crash pushed his heart across his chest and damaged every major organ in his body eight years ago. Doctors weren’t sure he would survive, let alone ever walk again, according to the American Red Cross.
But after undergoing several life-saving surgeries, a medically induced a coma, intensive rehabilitation and receiving 36 blood transfusions, the Welcome, Md., man gradually recovered and now dedicates his life to competing in triathlons and giving back to the donors who saved him.
“Thirty-six blood transfusions. That’s 36 people who took an hour of their time to save the life of someone they would never know,” Boyle told The Washington Post. “When I compete in a race, it isn’t just me out there: There is also a team of many blood donors being represented, and crossing that finish line is my way of saying thank you for their gift.”
And Boyle has crossed many a finish line. He achieved his lifelong dream of competing in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii just three years after his accident. This year alone, Boyle has competed in two Ironman races and one marathon. He dons the Red Cross logo on his chest each time.
“I wanted to test my body,” he told courant.com after finishing his most recent marathon on Oct. 13. “I felt so limited, so restricted throughout my recovery. I was Brian the Sick Boy. The Boy in the Wheelchair. Now it’s Brian the Ironman.”
Boyle also honors his blood donors by emulating them, especially during a time when the Red Cross is facing a 15-year low in blood supply. He’s donated blood five times, according to the Red Cross.
“During a race when I feel my heart racing and my blood pumping, these were once signs that I was dying,” Boyle wrote on redcross.org, “now these are signs that I am living, and thanks to the Red Cross, living is something I don’t take for granted.”
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