During the summer of 2005, Eric Dolch was like most teenaged boys, hanging out with his buddies at the mall, playing paintball and getting ready to attend high school at Cardinal Newman in West Palm Beach.
Then in mid-June Eric, 14, started complaining of not feeling well. Four days later, he was hospitalized at St. Mary's Medical Center/Nicklaus Children's Hospital in West Palm Beach after he awoke disoriented and unable to see well. Doctors diagnosed Eric with a severe form of encephalitis and he eventually had to be placed in a medically-induced coma.
A week later, Eric was airlifted to Miami Children's Hospital where he remained in a coma for 115 days while doctors waited for his seizures to get under control. After he was grdualy removed from the coma, he spent three weeks in rehabilitation at Miami Jackson Hospital before returning to Miami Children's in late November.
After another three-month stay at Miami Children's because of too many seizures, Eric went to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital from January to March of 2006, but had to return to Miami Children's Hospital in late March with more medical issues and remained there through August.
Eric finally returned home on Aug. 30, 2006 where, with his seizures finally under control, he had been able to make steady progress.
Now 17, Eric Dolch continues to make his recovery from near-fatal encephalitis with family and friends at his West Palm Beach home. This Labor Day weekend marked the two-year anniversary of Eric returning home after spending more than 15 months at Miami Children's Hospital's Pediatric Intensive Care, as well as hospitals in West Palm Beach, Miami and Boston.
Doctors still don't know exactly what Eric's long-term prognosis will be in many areas. They know he will face a lot of challenges in life, but we are hopeful he will continue to improve in the coming months.