U.S. Army veteran Greg Galeazzi lost both his legs in May 2011 during his deployment to Afghanistan, but his physical injuries have not deterred his dream to study at Harvard Medical School.
Galeazzi and his fellow soldiers were returning from a normal day of interviewing influential community leaders in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb exploded, immediately destroying both Galeazzi’s legs and almost completely severing his right arm.
“All I could do was scream,” Galeazzi told ABC News. “It’s hard to put into words that sickening, nauseating feeling to see that my legs were just gone.”
“I put my head back and just thought, ‘I’m dead,’ ” Galeazzi added.
Because the unit was located in a remote part of northern Afghanistan, there was no pain medication immediately available and swift medical attention was unlikely.
Still, Galeazzi’s fellow soldiers wrapped his wounds and prepared him for the medical helicopter that arrived a half hour later.
“What I found out then was that the real nightmare was really just beginning,” Galeazzi said.
After more than 50 surgeries, hours of physical therapy and years of related health issues, Galeazzi’s desire to become a doctor only strengthened.
When he regained physical strength, he began taking pre-medical courses at the University of Maryland. After two years of study and 18 courses, he achieved his desired MCAT score and applied to 19 medical schools on the East Coast, according to People Magazine.
Galeazzi announced his acceptance into Harvard Medical School in a post on his blog.
“It is tough to explain just how thrilled I was to simply be invited to interview at Harvard, let alone be accepted,” Galeazzi wrote. “Mostly, it came as an immense relief to know that my hard work in pre-med and MCAT preparation paid off; and it reminded me just how grateful I am to have survived my injuries, and still have talents to share with the world.”
Of the 165 students in his class, Galeazzi is the only one who uses a wheelchair.
He is accompanied in Boston by his fiancé, Jazmine Romero, whom he met during his schooling in 2013 and plans to marry next year.
“I’ve had some of the most amazing, enriching, and fulfilling experiences of my life since my injury,” Galeazzi told ABC News.
“Even though I’ve gone through this journey, it’s not lost on me how unbelievable this ride has been and how lucky I am to be here,” he added.
Between medical school, health recoveries and falling in love, Galeazzi also re-taught himself how to play the guitar since losing the ability after his right arm was shattered.
“I’ve had the opportunity to do some awesome performances,” he wrote on his blog.
“Through my involvement with the nonprofit Musicorps, I have had the pleasure of playing/ performing with Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Tom Morello (Audioslave, Rage Against the Machine), Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Sheryl Crow, and many other amazing musicians and talented veterans,” he added.