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Former Jane Doe Returning to N.C.

February 4, 2000

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A brain-damaged woman who was a Jane Doe for two years until she suddenly remembered her Social Security number began a long trip home by ambulance Friday.

Clutching a black teddy bear, Mary Joyce Howard was put into the ambulance for the 21-hour drive to High Point, N.C., where she will stay in a long-term care facility. Doctors have said the 39-year-old woman still suffers from the effects of brain damage.

Howard was carrying no identification when she was run down by a car along Interstate 40 in western Oklahoma in February 1998.

She began talking in July and said she wanted to be called Joyce. Finally, last month, she suddenly remembered her Social Security number and her identity was traced to North Carolina.

Integris Grove General Hospital emergency room physician Doug Cox and paramedics Dale Easter and Eric Shankles volunteered to drive her when her relatives said they couldn’t pay for the transfer.

``I thought what if that were my sister or my mom and we didn’t have the resources to get her home,″ Cox said.

``One of the reasons I went into this business was to help people,″ he said.

Integris Grove hospital donated the ambulance, complete with a television and VCR for Howard to watch along the way. Shankles said he raided his daughter’s Disney collection to help put Howard at ease.

``She likes cartoons,″ said Jamie Carey, the technician at Presbyterian Hospital who coaxed Howard into giving her full Social Security number last month. ``She’ll watch older stuff like `Little House on the Prairie,′ but she really likes cartoons.″

Howard’s brother, Reuben Howard of Burlington, N.C., has said she suffered from bipolar disorder, often called manic-depression. He said she led a vagabond life that included a criminal history in Pennsylvania and numerous marriages. He said the rest of the family would often not hear from her for years at a time.

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