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Amnesia patient reunites with family, doesn’t remember them

June 26, 1997

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ Even after she was reunited with family members, Susan Allan still had no idea who they were.

The mother and sister of the 27-year-old woman tried to jar her memory Wednesday during a reunion at the Orlando hospital where Ms. Allan showed up two weeks ago.

They had no immediate luck and were left wondering how she ended up roughly 1,800 miles from her home in Canada with no recollection of her journey.

Members of her family said they intended to leave today for Canada, where they planned to seek medical treatment for Ms. Allan.

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.

But she said she didn’t recognize her family’s faces nor the things they told her about herself _ 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 may remember more about herself once she returns to her home, although it doesn’t bode well that she doesn’t recognize her family, said Dr. Alan Keck of the Mid-Florida Psychological Associates in Winter Park.

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.″

On June 10, Ms. Allan left Fort Frances, Ontario, a border town of 9,000, to make the short drive across the bridge to Minnesota.

She never came back. Her family became distraught the next day when her car was found at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., almost 330 miles away.

Police suspected foul play and had photos of her distributed to the media. But two days after she vanished, she turned up at the Columbia Park Medical Center in Orlando, saying she had no idea who she was.

There was nothing physically wrong with her. She had no bruises and did not appear to have been hit on the head. Tests showed she had not been drinking or taking drugs. She wasn’t dirty and had $220 in a purse.

Ms. Allan’s family found her after she made a tearful plea Tuesday on central Florida television for help. A Minnesota man visiting Orlando recognized her and contacted a local television station, which then called KSTP-TV in Minneapolis. That station called the Allan family and played the audio portion of the plea.

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