Amnesic Veteran Flies to Sweden After Rare Diagnosis
(NEW YORK) — An amnesic U.S. Navy veteran who awoke in a California hospital speaking only Swedish has flown to Sweden, the Desert Sun reported.
Michael Boatwright was rushed to Desert Regional Medical Center in February after being found unconscious in a Palm Springs, Calif., Motel 6. His personal belongings included five tennis rackets and two cell phones plus a driver’s license and veteran’s card identifying him as Boatwright. But the 61-year-old insisted his name was Johan Ek, and said he had no memory of his past and no idea how to speak English.
“We did not find any major trauma on him,” hospital spokesman Rich Ramhoff told ABC News. “The assumption was the cause [of the amnesia] could have been psychological in nature, but nothing physical was found.”
Boatwright was diagnosed with transient global amnesia, a rare condition marked by sudden memory loss and confusion. An investigation into his IDs found that he had worked in China and Japan as an English teacher for a decade, and had flown from Hong Kong to Palm Springs just four days before he was found in the motel. He had also lived in Sweden off and on between 1981 and 2003.
Boatwright landed in Sweden Tuesday after spending six months at the Desert Regional Medical Center’s skilled nursing facility and Roy’s Desert Resource Center, a homeless shelter in north Palm Springs, according to the Sun. He was greeted there by Ewa Espling, a Swedish woman he dated in the early ’80s.
Before the reunion, Espling told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that Boatwright had “the most kind eyes [she] had ever seen” and had been haunted by nightmares of the Vietnam War.
She also called him a “childhood sweetheart” on Facebook, according to the Sun.
Boatright’s sister, 59-year-old Michelle Brewer of Kentwood, La., said her brother had “just disappeared” and that she had no way of getting in touch with him after their mother died last year.
“He’s always been a wanderer,” she told the Sun. “Then he’d come back when he needed some money or something from somebody. Then he’d take off again.”
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