Amnesia leaves US man speaking only Swedish

Last updated 13:59 16/07/2013
Michael Boatwright
CONFUSED: Michael Boatwright has no memory of his former life

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Doctors in a Southern California hospital are looking into the mystery of a Florida man who awoke with no memory of his past, speaking only Swedish.

The Desert Sun newspaper reported that Michael Boatwright woke up with amnesia, calling himself Johan Ek. He doesn't remember his two ex-wives, or his son.

Police took Boatwright to the Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs after he was found unconscious in a motel room in February.

The man's family reportedly came forward after hearing about the case through the Desert Sun news website.

His sister Michelle Brewer told the site she had last spoken to him about a decade ago.

"I haven't talked to him in years. He just disappeared," she said.

Brewer said she didn't have any way to get in touch with him, even when their mother died last year.

"He's always been just a wanderer. Then he'd come back when he needed some money or something from somebody. Then he'd take off again," she said.

The 61-year-old US Navy veteran was diagnosed with Transient Global Amnesia, which stops people from creating new memories.

Doctors said his new identity was part of his condition. Officials said online evidence suggested he was born in Sweden, although his ID listed his birthplace as Florida.

But when it comes to how he got amnesia the doctors are clueless.

"He's kind of a blank slate," Lisa Hunt-Vasquez, the social worker assigned to help piece his life back together, was quoted as saying.

Hunt-Vasquez discovered that Boatwright was a 3D graphic designer who taught English in Japan and China, the Daily Mail reported.

She also found that Boatwright flew into Palm Springs from Hong Kong on February 24, which was the last day valid on his Chinese visa, but she didn't know why.

After contacting the Missing Persons Bureau in Florida, she found that Boatwright's parents were deceased and that his  first wife divorced him in 1983. She could not be contacted.

- Agencies

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