Every two seconds somebody in the US needs blood. Nineteen years ago, I was one of these people.

My name is Brian Boyle. I live in Southern Maryland. My story begins back in 2004, one month after graduating from high school. I was coming home from swim practice and was involved in a near fatal car accident, where I was struck on my driver’s side door by a speeding truck.

The Story of the Accident

The impact of the crash damaged practically every organ in my body. My heart was ripped across my chest, my lungs collapsed, my ribs, pelvis, and left clavicle were shattered, my liver was lacerated and I lost 60 percent of the blood in my body.

I was quickly evacuated through an air ambulance to a local trauma unit after the rescue squads used the jaws of life to extricate me from the wreckage.

When I arrived at the trauma hospital, I was immediately brought into emergency surgery. For the next two months I was in a coma, on kidney dialysis and life support, and a number of other machines that filled my hospital room. I underwent 14 major operations, received 36 lifesaving blood transfusions and 13 plasma treatments, was resuscitated eight times, and ended up losing about one-hundred pounds.

In the coma, I remember hearing the last rights and statements about being a vegetable and spending the rest of my life in a nursing home. As an athlete all my life this was so difficult for me to process.

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 subtlest shake of a hand and then a smile, my parents knew that I was still there. With their love and support combined with intense physical therapy sessions, I was slowly able to relearn how to talk, eat, tie my shoes, take a shower and eventually walk with a cane.

Moving Forward and Becoming a Red Cross Volunteer

It was around this time that I made a promise in my wheelchair before one of my physical therapy sessions that if I was ever able to leave the hospital and make a full recovery, I wanted to be able to help others by becoming a Red Cross volunteer. A few days later, I was able to leave the hospital and begin my outpatient therapy at home.

Brian Boyle

Small goals became larger goals over time, and with a lot of hard work and physical therapy sessions over the next several months, I was able to begin my freshman year at college one year after the accident, which was a dream come true. I was then able to complete the healing process two years after that, when I crossed the finish line of the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

After Hawaii that year, I lived up to the promise that I made to myself when I was in my rehab facility and began volunteering with the American Red Cross to show my gratitude for the large amount of blood I received. I hosted dozens of blood drives nationwide, sharing my story at hundreds of events, participating in more than five dozen endurance events as a way to represent my 36 blood donors, and have accumulated more than 4,000 hours of volunteer service raising awareness on the importance of donating blood.

The Importance of a Healthy Active Lifestyle

Health and fitness have always been very important to me, and I often reflect back on how my surgeons explained to me that I was able to survive the initial impact of the crash followed by the months in recovery because of my healthy and active lifestyle.

Brian Boyle, American Red Cross Blood Recipient

As a certified personal trainer and triathlon coach, I think about this reality whenever I’m participating in an endurance or athletic event where I’m representing the 36 blood donors that helped save my life. When my heart is racing and my blood is pumping, they were once signs that I was dying, and now they are signs that I’m living.

Since the accident, I have dedicated my life to supporting the Red Cross’s mission because I wouldn’t be alive without the dozens of blood transfusions that I needed to live.

Join and help support our blood donation efforts. You can make an appointment to give blood today at redcrossblood.org