Thursday, 4:30 PM
Weymouth man, a volunteer in experiments, dies at 27
|Matt Nagle was a patient in two ground-breaking brain surgeries. (Handout Photo)|
By Bryan Marquard, Globe Staff
Speaking from a wheelchair that granted him the luxury of independent movement, Matt Nagle downplayed the suggestion that it took courage to let neuroscientists use his body as research laboratory.
"I'm not brave at all," he told the Globe a little more than a year ago. The experiments, he said, might prove beneficial for others who are paralyzed. "I was happy I could help; it was very humbling to be able to do that."
Where he saw humility, others saw heroism. Stabbed in the neck when he tried to help friends who had found themselves in a brawl, Mr. Nagle was paralyzed six years ago. Refusing to accept that he would never walk again or breathe without a ventilator, he volunteered for experimental treatments. Electrodes implanted in his body allow him to operate a robotic hand, play computer games, and at last to breathe on his own.
On July 16, a day after his weekly trip home for Sunday dinner with his family in Weymouth, Mr. Nagle slipped into a coma and was diagnosed with sepsis, a systemic infection that affects the entire body. He died Monday in Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton.
"He wanted to try to do everything possible to take advantage of the latest research, not only for himself, but for everyone else with severe disabilities. He really felt that by being the first person to have the BrainGate he would make a contribution to others. And I think, most importantly, he gave them hope."
"God uses some people's bodies to show what life can be like," Mr. Nagle told the Globe in October 2004 while demonstrating what he could do with a computer.
"Matty was always out there trying," said his father, Patrick, a retired homicide detective with the Cambridge Police Department. "He always said, 'If it doesn't help me, it'll help someone else."
In addition to his father, Mr. Nagle leaves his mother, Ellen (Shumway), and his brother, Michael P., both of Weymouth.
A funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Saturday in St. Francis Xavier Church in South Weymouth.