BJ Miller

Adversity: Triple amputee, near-death experience

Advocacy: Provides palliative care to patients living and suffering with serious illness

“With my dramatic adversity comes the possibility for dramatic joy. Sharing this with others makes sweet of something tough. Life is hard enough as it is – we don’t need to suffer, too, from false isolation.”

As a sophomore at Princeton University, BJ Miller sustained electrical burns when he climbed on a commuter train and the electricity arced to his metal wristwatch. The encounter with 11,000 volts of electricity required the amputation of his left arm below the elbow and his legs below the knees. He experienced flashbacks to the incident, endured several surgeries, and suffered with chronic pain.

The life-changing accident inspired BJ to study medicine in the hope of helping others dealing with loss and illness. He studied palliative care–an approach that uses team-oriented, holistic approaches to treat the symptoms of illness and to relieve pain and suffering. Since then, BJ has worked in all kinds of care settings, while dedicating his career to moving healthcare towards a human centered approach, on a policy as well as a personal level. Today he sees patients and families via telehealth through Mettle Health, a company he co-founded with the aim to provide personalized, holistic consultations for patients and caregivers. BJ has given hundreds of talks nationally and internationally on the topics of death, dying, palliative care, and the intersection of healthcare with design. His 2015 TED Talk has been viewed over 17 million times.

Advocacy links: