He beat cancer - now he saves lives

WHEN he was diagnosed with Leukaemia at the age of 15, Matthew Rutter faced an uncertain future.

Russell Claydon

WHEN he was diagnosed with Leukaemia at the age of 15, Matthew Rutter faced an uncertain future.

He required a life-saving bone marrow transplant from his sister and then suffered respiratory complications from the operation which left him unable to walk across a room.

But ten years on he has embarked on a career in medicine and has just been recognised as one of the most promising doctors in the country.

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Mr Rutter, now 25, has told of his gratitude to his sister and the NHS and hopes to be able to help many others battle back from illness in his job as a clinical respiratory physiologist at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

Originally from Halesworth, but now living on site at the Cambridge hospital, Mr Rutter has just been named the Young Healthcare Scientist of the year at the Chief Scientific Officer's annual conference.

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He said: “There was a point when it was looking like my illness was going to prove fatal but I managed to battle back.

“I enjoy my job and am overwhelmed by this award - I really wasn't expecting to win. I have to say a big thank you to all my colleagues, friends and family who have helped me over the years.”

Back in 1998 and reported in the East Anglian Daily Times, Mr Rutter was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, undergoing a course of chemotherapy.

As part of his treatment he required a bone marrow transplant and of his family his sister Daniela, 11 at the time, came back as the best match. It was decided she would go ahead with the operation for her brother and it initially appeared to have been a success on both sides.

But then Mr Rutter began suffering complications in his lungs in July 1999, leaving him breathless and requiring further surgery to rectify the narrowing of his airways.

He was referred to the respiratory specialists at Addenbrooke's Hospital for his treatment and regular check-ups where he became interested in their work and undertook work experience with them.

On returning to school and completing his A-levels Mr Rutter was offered a job with the team and is now studying a BSc in clinical physiology at Anglia Ruskin University alongside his job, which he started in September 2002.

He said: “It is really good. It is quite hard work. I am working and balancing a degree so I am quite busy but managing.

“The other thing I am really interested in is interacting with people and giving back to the health service because they gave me so much help.

“I probably could not have pictured anything like this happening. When I was ill it was difficult to see just a couple of months ahead.”

He added: “My achievement is only a result of Daniela's achievement when she was 11. It makes us very close.

“She did not have too many problems with it. She just did not think of herself at all and nothing about the complications. She wanted to do her bit.”

Daniela Rutter, now 21, of Old Station Road, Halesworth, said: “It is just amazing the amount of stuff he has gone through and what he has managed to achieve.

“We are all so proud of him. It shows you can have cancer and come out of the other side. It is not the end for everybody.”

Professor David Lomas, professor of respiratory biology at Addenbrooke's, who nominated Mr Rutter for the award, said: “He is quite an outstanding individual who is a role model for what can be achieved by hard work, dedication and a passion for a service to which he is truly committed.”

Mr Rutt's parents, Alan and Virginia said they were both extremely proud of their son and hoped his story could inspire others struck down by a serious illness.

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