PORTLAND – Matthew Shaw defied the odds and rose above the challenges of autism to create a successful career and a meaningful life.

Mr. Shaw was a medical records technician at Maine Medical Partners — Endocrinology & Diabetes Center in Scarborough. He worked in a similar capacity at Maine Cardiology Associates for 13 years.

He had a passion for music and electronics, and loving family that supported him every step of the way.

“Matthew proved everyone wrong,” said his brother, Vincent Shaw, of Gorham. “My mother believed in him. My father believed in him, and Matthew believed in himself. He was so successful in everything he did. He was truly amazing.”

Mr. Shaw’s life took a tragic turn on Aug. 24 after he suffered a pulmonary embolism. He died Sunday at age 38.

Mr. Shaw grew up in Portland. He attended Spurwink School and Portland Regional Vocational Technical Center, where he graduated with honors.

His mother, Rosemary Shaw, spoke with admiration and pride at how her son — who experienced so many challenges in school — went on to accomplish so much in his life. She remembered having to persuade school officials to let her son join the data processing class.

She noted Mr. Shaw’s picture in his 1994 yearbook. He’s standing tall and smiling from ear to ear, she said.

“It’s like he was saying, ‘Look what I did,’” his mother remarked. “I can’t think of anyone that worked harder than he did in spite of his huge challenges,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the people in charge of the offices (where Mr. Shaw worked) that gave him a chance, his life would have been completely different. I will always appreciate their acceptance of him and willingness to give him a chance.”

At Maine Medical Partners — Endocrinology & Diabetes Center, his job was to scan and label the medical records information in its system. He did so with nearly 100 percent accuracy.

Audra Buschagen, practice administrator at Maine Medical Partners, said he was a dedicated and hard-working employee.

“He was a tremendous asset here,” Buschagen said. “He was 150 percent qualified and he did the job perfectly. He was awesome. Every day he worked, he would put music on. It was Matt’s music of the day.”

Mr. Shaw’s passion for music is an understatement. He could name any song and artist from the 1970s to the 1990s.

He had a strong bond with his family. He lived with his mother in Portland and visited his brother and sister on alternate weekends.

His brother said they enjoyed going to high school football games and to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Mr. Shaw also enjoyed fishing and family cookouts.

“His favorite thing in the world was his family,” his brother said. “I wish I had more time with him. We didn’t expect this to happen. This is so sudden.”

On Aug. 24, Mr. Shaw’s mother picked him up after work and took him grocery shopping at Hannaford in Scarborough. Without warning, Mr. Shaw became short of breath and started perspiring profusely. His complexion turned ashen and his mother called 911 for help.

Two customers standing in line at the pharmacy — a physician assistant and a Scarborough coach — helped Mr. Shaw before the paramedics arrived.

Mr. Shaw’s mother said he suffered cardiac arrest and slipped into an irreversible coma.

On Tuesday, she expressed thanks and gratitude for the two customers who helped her son.

At the end of the interview, she remembered the night before his health event, when he greeted her at home with a giant smile.

“It was like he was truly happy to see me. That was my last gift from him,” she said. “Of all my accomplishments in life, he is my biggest. I had the honor of being his mother and helping him on his path to adulthood.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]