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Man Found Abandoned Shows Improving Mental Capacity

August 17, 1994

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ He was a diaper-wearing infant trapped in a body nearly 6 feet tall when he was abandoned outside a hospital last month.

″Please take care of him,″ the note read. ″I have to get on with my life.″

And now the man authorities call Matthew John Doe is slowly getting on with his.

When he was found outside Rex Hospital on July 18, Matthew was wearing a diaper and ill-fitting T-shirt, sitting on a wool blanket and earnestly sucking his thumb.

The note said he had suffered a head injury that left him brain-damaged and that his mother’s boyfriend had abused him.

Nurses fed him with a spoon, read him books and watched while he played with coloring books and toys. Although he looked about 27, his mental capacity was estimated at 18 months.

A month later, Matthew can recognize his first name when it is printed on paper and is rapidly improving.

″It’s almost like he’s coming out of some kind of a trance, as if some kind of veil was being removed,″ said Steve Shuster, head of adult protective services for the Wake Department of Social Services.

But Matthew continues to get agitated when social workers talk about his family, and authorities haven’t been able to learn his last name.

Using what evidence he has given them, authorities searched in Knoxville, Tenn., for clues to his past. Now they are looking at birth records from Riverside, Calif.

Shuster said doctors believe Matthew did suffer severe head trauma at some point. He has no scars to indicate that, but it could explain his recovery now.

″It depends on the severity of the injury,″ said Dr. Randall Evans, clinical neuropsychologist and executive director of Learning Services in Durham. ″But research studies suggest you will regain 80 to 90 percent of function within the first two years of a severe injury.″


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