Matt Rutter – Respiratory Physiology

Matt Rutter was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was 15. A bone marrow transplant saved his life but left him with a serious lung condition. He needed frequent breathing tests and it was the time he spent in the lung function lab at Addenbrooke’s Hospital that decided him on a career in respiratory physiology. He was intrigued by the technology that was used. “But I didn’t want to be a person sitting in a room with a computer. I wanted to interact with people”.

He started work at Addenbrooke’s at 2002 and today it is what he can do for the patients that gives him his greatest job satisfaction. “To get accurate test results you have to be good at communicating with people. It’s one of the key components of the job. It gives me a real sense of satisfaction to know I’ve done a good test”.

He joined with A levels. Now at 26, he is studying for a degree in clinical physiology and doing research with immediate practical benefits. Matt is one of the people with lung problems who need to have extra oxygen when they fly. This is because pressurised plane cabins contain less oxygen than normal air. Matt suspected that for some lung conditions, the guidelines which identify those who will need this help might be wrong. After gathering more data, he proved this and was invited to Stockholm to present his research findings to other scientists.

There was another reason for his career choice. “I wanted to give something back to the NHS because it saved my life”. He is doing it every day.

Profile courtesy of Chief Scientific Officer, Department of Health – Professor Sue Hill