By Brian Boyle, American Red Cross Officer, National Partnerships, Biomedical Services, and Blood Recipient
I was eighteen years old during the summer of 2004 when my life changed drastically in the blink of an eye. The day was July 6, and I was coming home from swim practice when I almost died in a car accident. The injuries were catastrophic – my heart shifted across my chest, my lungs collapsed, I lost 60 percent of my blood, and a majority of my vital organs were either lacerated or failing. I spent the next two months of my life in a coma and on life support. I underwent 14 major operations, was resuscitated eight times and received 36 blood transfusions and 13 plasma treatments.
PASSION FROM MY PARENTS
In addition to the amazing medical care and lifesaving blood from the American Red Cross that I received, my parents were instrumental in my recovery. Without them, I would not have survived the nightmare that I was living. In the darkest moments of my life, my parents could sense that I was giving up – but they refused to allow me to do that.
I’ll never forget my dad standing beside my bed, his hands placed over the web of wires threaded around my wrist. My mom was standing by the glass door at the foot of my bed, being held up with nurses, as my dad begged me to stay strong and continue fighting, for myself, for him and my mom, and also for my future wife, and future children. It was then that I realized the pain I was going through was nowhere near the level of pain that my parents were experiencing, and that is when I started my journey back to life.
After spending three years in recovery, I wanted to somehow pay it forward. I became a Red Cross volunteer and blood donation ambassador, and I’ve proudly volunteered more than 4,000 hours of service to supporting the Red Cross mission. This past February, I had the privilege of officially becoming a Red Cross employee. The day before my first day of work I found out that my wife and I were having our first child, a daughter. We chose to name her Clara, in honor of the founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton, and to recognize the blood donors that helped save my life.
FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH
Our story of hope has come full circle. July had always been a month that symbolized tragedy in our family, because of my car accident in July 2004. But on July 27, 2017, my wife and I welcomed our daughter to the world. It was the greatest and most powerful moment of my life when I saw Clara for the first time. From that moment, July became a symbol of triumph – something that now grows within Clara.
PASSING ON STRENGTH AND HOPE
As I stood there next to my wife when Clara was born, I couldn’t help but reflect back on the journey over the past thirteen years, especially the moment when my dad begged me to stay strong for myself, for them, and for my future wife and children. Getting married and seeing my daughter born would not have been able to happen without the love from my parents, support from many care providers, and the blood from dozens of generous Red Cross blood donors who helped save my life. Their blood gave me back my life, and it allowed me to give life. My family and I are truly grateful.
For more information or to make appointment to give, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).