Hospital luncheon celebrates 2nd lives

The annual event brings together hospital staffers with those they saved.

Published May 25, 2007

TAMPA - Michael Boylan is happy to be alive. You might expect that from a guy who survived a car accident that took his intestines, stomach and pancreas.

But few people are quite this happy.

"Brother, I feel great!" said the 38-year-old at Tampa General Hospital's Trauma Awareness Luncheon on Thursday.

The annual event reunites accident survivors with the doctors and nurses who saved their lives.

At the TGH rehabilitation center, about 20 former patients gathered to talk about their experiences and, often tearfully, give thanks.

"This allows us to close the loop for our post-traumatic stress, " said Dr. Charles Paidas, chief of pediatric surgery at the hospital. "Basically, it shows there's light at the end of the tunnel."

Boylan looks fit and healthy, especially compared with the day in 1999 when he took his eyes off the road to pick up a cell phone and crashed his Toyota into a concrete pole on Busch Boulevard.

He weighed 210 pounds. Then doctors transplanted another person's guts into him.

Now he weighs a slim 150. His eyes spark when he talks.

"I would not change a single thing. I've had a lot of pain and a lot of adversity, " he said, but "focusing on goals and having a challenge at hand will help you overcome any physical impairment."

He revels in every experience: his trip with his family to the Grand Canyon three months ago; watching his three daughters grow up.

"I want to see them graduate, walk 'em down the wedding aisle, eventually have grandkids, " Boylan said.

Michael A. Mohammed can be reached at 813 226-3404 or mmohammed@sptimes.com.