Online community helps amnesiac woman find her family

A woman with amnesia turned to social media and law enforcement to rekindle memory of her own identity and any family she may have.

Miss Ashley Manetta, 53, was hospitalised after being found semi-conscious on a street in Southern California, about 50km north of San Diego, on Feb 1.

She has been undergoing cancer treatments since then.

"The amnesia I have is called retro amnesia and doctors have said they have seen this before with the kind of antibodies from the volleyball-sized tumour that was on my ovary," she wrote on her Facebook page.

"I have been getting chemotherapy treatments and have lost all of my hair. My prognosis is not good and I pray my family will be found soon."

She had claimed to have no memory of who she was or where she might be from, said reports.

But after months, she has finally rediscovered who she is and who her family members are.

Miss Manetta, who went to southern California several year ago, has sisters in Colorado and Maryland.

Her plight gained attention worldwide after a post by NBC 7 went viral, with a Facebook reach of 21.2 million people as of Wednesday afternoon.

Facebook users shared the post nearly 200,000 times, leading to thousands of tips and suggestions.

Miss Manetta's nephew watched the story online and immediately called his mum to tell her about the mystery woman: Aunt Ashley.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who earlier told Reuters that her Facebook page is authentic, took the tip to Miss Manetta and her friend Debbie Rough, her nurse who championed the search for relatives.

The phone call led to tears and details of her forgotten past.

Miss Manetta told NBC 7: "It was extremely emotional. We were all sobbing. They're so sorry I had to go through what I did during this time without them."


Even though the FBI did not officially confirm her identity, investigators felt comfortable with the information they provided and helped facilitate a reunion.

Before she found her relatives, Miss Manetta, who reportedly thought she might be Australian, was moved from the hospital to an assisted-living centre in a neighbouring city.

Her story was picked up by Australian news media and Miss Manetta told NBC 7 that her faith in God and her new community of friends are sustaining her.

She had said earlier in this week: "I'm hoping that someone sees me, or this (referring to the NBC story), or something on the Internet and my family immediately says, 'There she is! There she is!'"

Miss Manetta plans to live with one of her sisters.

This article was first published on July 3, 2015.
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