I’m proud to announce that the new Iron Heart website is now live, which documents Brian’s story and speaking career. Please visit ironheartbrianboyle.com
(BALTIMORE) — While thousands of people have responded to the recent emergency call for blood and platelet donations from the American Red Cross, there remains an urgent need for platelet donors, as well as donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood. Right now blood products are being distributed to area hospitals almost as quickly as donations are coming in.
“We are grateful to the donors who have rolled up a sleeve to give blood or platelets to the Red Cross in the last couple of weeks, but our work is not over,” said Donald L. Baker, CEO for the Red Cross Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services Region. “The need for blood is constant. As July comes to a close and August begins, we ask eligible donors to please give blood or platelets as soon as possible.”
The Red Cross issued an emergency call for blood donations on July 9 after seeing about 50,000 fewer blood and platelet donations than expected in June. Donations have increased by about 15 percent since the emergency call for donors was issued, but the middle and end of July mark only the halfway point to the challenging summer months.
“The summer is historically one of the most difficult times of year for blood and platelet donations,” said Baker. “Many donors are still enjoying summer activities, but patients are unable to take a vacation from needing lifesaving transfusions.”
Blood and platelets are needed for many reasons. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery patients and organ transplant patients, as well as those receiving treatment for cancer or sickle cell disease, may depend on lifesaving transfusions. Each day, the Red Cross Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services Region needs approximately 1000 donors to step forward and give blood. Blood and platelets can only come from generous volunteer donors.
Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially encouraged to give double red cells where available. Type O negative blood is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative blood can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.
How to Donate Blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
Brian Boyle became “Iron Heart” after making a full recovery from a tragic car accident. At 18 every major organ in his body was damaged and doctors thought he would not survive, let alone walk again.
“Every day was not guaranteed, every day was a blessing, it was a gift. To go from that experience, where I saw first-hand the power that medicine has, that healthcare providers have for their patients, the compassion, the support the drive; just having that team effort all the way through kept me going,” says Brian Boyle, a.k.a “Iron Heart,” athlete and American Red Cross National Volunteer.
Now Brian has become an Ironman athlete, the American Red Cross National Volunteer, an author, artist and role model. Best of all he says, he runs alongside his father, fiance and his lucky dog.
“To see my dad out there doing it, it was just amazing. That was just the coolest part about it, to see my dad out there pushing the pace, and running alongside Pam the whole way. We just finished strong,” says Boyle.
The Maryland Healthcare Education Institute (MHEI) teamed up with Brian to create this first annual Iron Heart walk and 5K. Brian says he ran every step in gratitude.
“My racing is my way of saying thank you to my healthcare team, not just in PG Hospital, but to anyone in healthcare. It’s my way of saying thank you for choosing this career, thank you for choosing this path in life, and for all you do for patients and their families,” adds Boyle.
The Iron Heart event raised money for MHEI scholarships for healthcare providers.
“We had about 54 people that turned out for the race today, and we’re hoping for more next year. Really our goal was to get out here and have fun, and have everyone with us,” says Jena Large, Iron Heart event organizer.
A race for Brian Boyle the Iron Heart, who doesn’t have a finish line in sight.
Please click here to view the WHAG TV News segment about the Iron Heart 5K.
Every artist has a focus and a story to tell. My name is Brian Boyle, and this is my story.
My life changed drastically on July 6, 2004. One month after I graduated high school, I was coming home from swim practice and was involved in a very serious car accident with a speeding dump truck. The impact of the crash knocked my heart across my chest, breaking most of my ribs, clavicle, pelvis, collapsing my lungs, bloodloss of 60 percent damaging every major organ in my body, causing severe nerve damage to my left shoulder and left me in a coma where I was on life support for over two months at Prince Georges Hospital Center in Cheverly, MD.
In the blink of an eye I went from being a high-school graduate to a practically lifeless body on my deathbed. As for the future, it did not exist. My life was ripped away in an instant, and all that I had left as a reminder was a broken body covered in scarred flesh and a fragmented memory of what happened.
My rehabilitation and therapy was not just physical, it was also psychological and emotional. It was therapeutic for me to put my thoughts on paper, through writing, drawing and also through photography. For many hours of every day, my pen was my psychiatrist and I spoke through it subconsciously, and my emotions poured out onto the paper and into the computer.
I did not have an actual memory of the accident taking place, but I remembered most phases of the coma, and after a few weeks of getting strong enough to write and draw skillfully again, I explored my tragic past in order to confront and understand what happened to me.
The intense concentration that took place while visualizing and illustrating the subject matter helped me focus into the subconscious memories that lay beneath the surface of my mind. Having the ability to put my thoughts and memories down on paper was very therapeutic because it was the most efficient form of self-expression, which allowed me to embark on an internal journey in search of understanding.
Art portrays who I am as a human being and shows my inner feelings that cannot be expressed by words; recreating scenes from my memory of being in a coma, hallucinations, never-ending operations and the often hopeless atmosphere. To illustrate these scenes, I often use symbolic colors and images, disorienting compositions of blurred first-person perspectives and other methods that will recreate the memories.
This is what makes art so extraordinary, because an image that appears to be a blotch of colors is actually an expression of the artist’s emotions. I can create a different interpretation of my work, just by adding a variety of color-coordinated textures and value changes. An artist portrays their thoughts and feelings into their work by using neutral colors like gray and blue to show a feeling of peace, or use more vivid colors like red and orange to show rage or anger, and most importantly the essence of life, the substance of blood. The usage of black and white colors shows a clear boundary of life and death.
I try to use different effects like this in my artwork to catch the viewer’s eye; elongating a certain stroke or angle can change the whole perspective of a painting or sketch. Whether I’m drawing a picture of the intersection that my accident took place, or trying to recreate the feeling of being comatose, the art that I create attempts to put these fragments of my agonizing past together again.
Click here to view short film, “Comatose”.
I strongly believe that life is a learning experience in itself because every day you discover a new element that makes you stronger as an individual. Art is symbolically similar to life because art represents the essence and nature of life, which makes art as well as life a learning experience.
When I begin a new project, whether it’s digital, print or audio, I usually do not have a starting place or final product in mind. I just start drawing and it leads to a subconscious exploration of the haunting and fascinating visions of my past.
After the first mark on the paper is put down, I am flooded with memories that are visual representations of my subconscious. My method of reaction will vary, but my hope is to confront these images on a visible scale in order to make sense of them and from doing this these past few years, I finally have the closure that I have been seeking.
My journey back to life has been a very slow and often difficult process, and my art has also been a journey in itself to understand and confront this process.
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.”
To read full article, please visit this website.
For the voiceless, a Mouthpiece
Fall 2012 – Patient Voices
One summer day in 2004, Brian Boyle was driving home from swim practice when a dump truck slammed into his car, thrusting the 18-year-old athlete into a two-month battle for his life at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, Md. During that time, Boyle, who lost 60 percent of his blood and was revived eight times on the operating table, could see, hear and feel pain, but was unable to talk or move.
Today, Boyle, who spoke at the third annual Johns Hopkins Medicine Patient Safety Summit in June, has made a full recovery and is nationally known as a patient advocate and spokesperson for the American Red Cross. Boyle credits caregivers for his many accomplishments, including the more than two dozen marathons and endurance events he’s participated in since his recovery. To help Hopkins health care providers understand the needs of patients who can’t speak for themselves, Boyle describes his experience during the eight weeks he spent in a chemically induced coma in the ICU and how his care team inspired him to keep fighting.
Ceiling tiles. That’s the first thing I saw when I woke up alone in a white, brightly lit room. I didn’t know my name, where I was or how I had gotten there. I couldn’t move my arms or legs. I couldn’t even blink “Is this a dream?” I asked myself.
A priest recited the Last Rites by my bedside. The room became hazy before the blackness swallowed me whole. Hours, or maybe days later, I woke up again. My eyes burned as though they’d been open for days. I wanted to close them so badly, but I couldn’t. My left arm felt like it was on fire, and the pain was excruciating. I felt like screaming. But no one came to my rescue because I couldn’t speak, so I suffered in isolation and maddening silence.
Slowly, I remembered my name, the first of many clues I silently strung together in the days and weeks that followed as I tried to piece together the broken puzzle my life had become.
While I couldn’t talk or move, my other senses seemed superhuman. I heard everything, from the steady stream of beeps coming from the army of machines around my bedside to hushed conversations in the hallway. Words like “nursing home” and “vegetative state” amplified in my mind, crowding out any hope of ever escaping from my mental prison.
Among my heightened senses: an innate ability to detect mood. Whenever a nurse or doctor entered my room, I always could tell if they were happy or hurried, frustrated or calm. I always hoped my clinicians’ spirits were high; I needed every ounce of their attention to survive.
My time in ICU Room 19 passed slowly, marked by the smallest signs of progress: first blinking, wiggling my toes and then speaking my first word (months later, I added taking my first step to the list). None of these huge personal milestones would have been possible without my family and the many nurses, doctors, therapists, techs and countless others who fought tirelessly for me. Completely reliant on others in my vulnerable state, my health care team met my many needs, big and small, around the clock.
Most of all, however, they gave me hope. Even though I couldn’t talk, they spoke to me — something I craved in my isolated state. Whether to explain that day’s tests, to talk about the Olympics in Athens, which they frequently let me watch, or to tell me about their lives, they treated me like a family member instead of a body in a bed. Actions as simple as playing my favorite CDs or asking my family to bring in fans to cool my feverish body meant so much to me. The impact of even a smile cannot be overstated.
On Friday, September 14th, the White House welcomed over 100 American Red Cross volunteers, employees and partners, from across the country. The Red Cross has millions of volunteers across 187 countries and reaches more than 100 million people across the globe each year. As part of the day-long program, the White House honored Red Cross National Volunteer Spokesperson, Brian Boyle, as one of nine volunteers and employees who are “Champions of Change.”
In 2004 a horrific car crash almost claimed Brian Boyle’s life on his way home from swim practice in Charles County, MD. His heart moved across his chest and all major organs were damaged. When he emerged from a medically-induced coma, doctors predicted he might never walk again, but after multiple surgeries, 36 blood transfusions, 13 plasma treatments and physical therapy, Brian walked. Just three years after leaving ICU, he crossed the finish line at the Hawaii Ironman. He wears the American Red Cross logo when he competes to thank those who donated blood for him, and to show his sincerest appreciation to the blood donors that saved his life. Only a small percentage of people donate blood and Brian wants to change that.
These extraordinary individuals that were recognized have devoted their time and effort to the Red Cross across the country and had the opportunity to share their stories with Administration officials and Red Cross members around the globe. The Champions of Change program was created to honor ordinary Americans doing great work in their communities. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.
“President Obama knows how important the American Red Cross is to not only providing humanitarian relief but also building resilient communities,” said Jon Carson, Deputy Assistant to the President. “The American Red Cross Champions of Change we are honoring are a reflection of the generosity and compassion deeply rooted in our national identity.”
To learn more about Brian and his mission to save lives with the Red Cross, please visit the White House blog:
And to watch the Champions of Change presentations on Youtube, please visit here:
Want a good reason to donate blood? Meet Brian Boyle, who is a national spokesperson and volunteer for the American Red Cross.
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.
National Red Cross volunteer and blood recipient/donor Brian Boyle is a nominee for the “Volunteer of the Year” category of the Classy Awards, an international awards program which highlights charitable work around the world. Brian was nominated for his strong support of the American Red Cross blood program, promoting blood donation and as a speaker, author, and athlete.
Brian Boyle does not take one day for granted. A horrific car crash in 2004 almost claimed his life and Brian literally died eight times during his recovery. His heart moved across his chest, and all major organs were damaged. When he emerged from a medically-induced coma, doctors predicted he might never walk again. But after multiple surgeries, 36 blood transfusions, 13 plasma treatments and physical therapy, Brian walked.
Just three years after leaving ICU, he staged one of the greatest comebacks crossing the finish line at the Hawaii Ironman. In part, Brian credits his recovery to blood donors who helped him beat the odds after he lost 60% of his blood in the accident. He wears the American Red Cross logo when he competes to thank those who donated blood for him. Only a small percentage of people donate blood and Brian wants to change that.
Since 2007, he has worked closely with the Red Cross as a volunteer spokesperson. In an effort to raise awareness about the need for blood, Brian shares his lifesaving story through media interviews, public service announcements and high profile speaking engagements.
In 2009 & 2010, Brian was presented the “Regional Spokesperson of the Year” award from the Red Cross. During that time, he published a memoir entitled, Iron Heart, graduated from college with honors and made his first blood donation. Brian received the 2011 American Red Cross Presidential Award for Excellence for all he has done to increase blood donations on a national level.
Brian has also hosted dozens of blood drives across the country since 2009, generating thousands of lifesaving units. Blood drives hosted by Brian have helped recruit first-time blood donors at a rate of more than 25%. In 2012, Brian completed the Boston Marathon as a member of Team Red Cross. He has been featured on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, NBC’s The Today Show and ESPN. His story has been shared in USA Today, the Washington Post, Runner’s World and Muscle and Fitness Magazine. His journey of courage and determination has touched the hearts of many and his community service has helped save thousands of lives.
“There is no gift as absolutely precious as the gift of life, and no one acknowledges this more than Brian Boyle. Brian treats each day as a gift and an opportunity to help others. I’m in awe of Brian’s tenacity, relentless energy, graciousness, dedicated spirit, and compassionate commitment to helping others,” said Gail McGovern, President, American Red Cross.
Vote for Brian for Volunteer of the Year by July 26:
– Visit http://www.stayclassy.org/classy-awards
– click “vote”
– then go to “East” region
– select “Brian Boyle” for the Volunteer of the Year” category.
To read more about Brian and his work with the Red Cross, visit http://www.redcrossblood.org/ironheart