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Woman with amnesia reunited with relatives, but doesn’t remember them

June 26, 1997

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ A woman with amnesia who disappeared from her home in Canada two weeks ago was reunited with relatives Wednesday but didn’t remember their faces.

Susan Allan’s mother and sister tried to jar her memory at the hospital where she has been since she arrived two weeks ago. But the 27-year-old woman couldn’t remember, for example, that her birthday was Tuesday and her favorite foods are pasta and popcorn.

``I have a million questions and some answers,″ she said tearfully at a news conference, clasping the hands of her mother, Loretta Allan, and sister, Lisa Gill.

Ms. Allan, who had been dubbed Jane Doe, said she was happy to have an identity again.

``It used to be really hard to be Jane Doe because when you hear Jane Doe, you think of an unidentified body. You have no name or identity,″ she said.

On June 10, Ms. Allan left Fort Frances, Ontario, a border town of 9,000 people, to make the short drive across the bridge to Minnesota. Her family became distraught the next day when her car was found at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., almost 330 miles away.

She turned up the following day at the Columbia Park Medical Center in Orlando, saying she had no idea who she was. There was nothing physically wrong with her and tests showed she had not been using drugs.

Ms. Allan, who has degrees in applied psychology and sociology, had been working at the McDonald’s in Fort Frances for about two years while looking for a job in her field, said her father, Lawrence Allan.

Her family found her after she made a televised plea for help Tuesday. A Minnesota man visiting Orlando recognized her and contacted a TV station, which then called KSTP-TV in Minneapolis. That station called her family.

The family is to return Thursday to Canada, where they plan to get medical treatment for Ms. Allan.

Ms. Allan may remember more once she returns home, although it doesn’t bode well that she doesn’t recognize her family, said Dr. Alan Keck of the Mid-Florida Psychological Associates.

Amnesia is caused by head injury and emotional trauma. It more often causes short term memory loss and not the loss of a lifetime of memories or a person’s identity, he said.

``I’ve treated a lot of people who have amnesia,″ he said. ``I’ve never treated anybody with amnesia through their total life.″

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