Former professor will return home after suffering from coma in Vietnam

Ed Bohlander with his two kids. Bohlander died over the weekend after suffering a fall in Vietnam and being hospitalized with a coma for three months.

Nicole Ziege

A former WKU sociology professor will be airlifted home this week after being trapped in Vietnam for three months since suffering a fall, the professor’s family confirmed.

Ed Bohlander, who recently retired from WKU, went on a trip to Vietnam with his son, Will Bohlander, and his best friend in early April. During his trip, he suffered a fall and was put into a medically induced coma at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh.

After three months of fighting to get him home, Bohlander’s sister, Gretchen Lagodna, of Lexington, said the family received an email on Monday, June 25, from Allianz Travel Insurance, the travel insurance company used for the trip, saying that Bohlander will be airlifted and returned home this week.

In a previous email from Crystal Bohlander, Bohlander’s wife, on June 22, she said that Bohlander recovered, but he then slipped back into his coma and began suffering from a secondary infection that was resistant to antibiotics.

“They can’t say how long this might go on like this, but likely our time is counted in weeks,” Bohlander said in the email.

Crystal Bohlander flew to Vietnam after Bohlander’s accident and stayed with him for three months, Lagodna said.

“Our problem is that we cannot get home,” Crystal Bohlander said in the email. “We were first told he could not fly but he now has a medical release signed by the hospital.  The doctors say that he is fit to fly and have done the paperwork to document this.”

Lagodna said the family felt helpless to get Bohlander back to the United States.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Lagodna said. “We had no idea how to alter the process or how to influence the decision to bring him home.”

Before suffering the fall, Bohlander was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and walked with a cane, said Jerry Daday in an email. Daday is the executive director of the Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning at WKU and a former colleague of Bohlander’s.

“Ed rarely traveled, but this was a trip he and his friend Ronnie had dreamed about for many years,” Daday said in the email.

Lagodna said she was thankful that Bohlander will finally return home.

“We’re all elated that it’s finally over,” Lagodna said. “We’re eager to see him, that’s for sure.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said “Alliance Insurance Company” was the travel insurance company who reached out to Bohlander’s family. The company is actually called “Allianz Travel Insurance.” The Herald regrets the error.

Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow Nicole Ziege on Twitter at @NicoleZiege.