A Life Beyond Expectations
Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at eighteen months old, David Guthrie (HCB, ’90) was expected to survive only a few years. A mother’s determination, his own will to fight, and divine grace launched him into an extraordinary life that goes far beyond those early expectations.
Today, Guthrie’s work centers on the intersection of technology and business, and he often serves companies as a board member or consultant, bridging the two. He provides face to face interactions with CEOs on how to apply technology, but also converses with IT professionals in their technical language for product and strategy. He also harnesses his unique background in his work in medical technology. “I’m coming at it from the patient’s perspective, because I understand what they want and the frustrations they have.”
PERSERVERANCE AND POSSIBILITIES
Guthrie endured medical treatments and hospital stays throughout his childhood, but in spite of the setbacks of chronic illness, he was always learning. As a high school student, he kept a computer in his hospital room and developed a keen interest in programming. Guthrie had to drop out of high school due to declining health from cystic fibrosis. When his health improved a few years later, Guthrie became determined to go to college. His perseverance earned him a degree in business management and information systems.
When he left the university, Guthrie partnered with Ed Knowling at ISSI, a custom software development firm based in Knoxville that focused on developing websites and online media. They were pioneers in a new realm, launching the first HGTV website, building Metallica’s fan club site, and creating multimedia for the Olympic Games.
At ISSI, Guthrie worked on prototyping a new product for MedCast: a medical information system for physicians. It was a connection that led him into the realm of medical technology development. After a successful round of fundraising, Guthrie sold his portion of ISSI and joined MedCast in Atlanta as chief technology officer. A few years later, the company sold to WebMD for $250 million.
Guthrie then spent a few years as a venture capital partner at Fuqua, investing in early stage technology and life science companies. Large communications firm PGi recruited him in 2000, and he immersed himself in running their operations and technology efforts. “We sold PGi in 2015 for over $1 billion,” he says. “I’m still on the board there and help with technology strategy.” Since 2016, Guthrie has served in board and advisory positions for several communications and healthcare companies, including eHealth, PatientPoint, SleepData, and Brightlink.
MIRACLES AND MOTIVATION
As his career grew, Guthrie and his wife, Lydia, watched their family miraculously grow, too. “It’s another example of the unexpected,” says Lydia. “This man wasn’t supposed to be alive and wasn’t supposed to be able to have children, yet God gave us two daughters.” The Guthries later welcomed three adopted children as well.
Meanwhile, Guthrie’s health declined again as his lungs deteriorated. Dependent on oxygen 24 hours a day, he decided to pursue a double lung transplant. “I had so much to live for and so many loved ones who needed me as both a husband and father,” he says, looking back on the reasons that led him to undergo the surgery.
Guthrie had the transplant in 2013. Since then, he’s experienced several more setbacks, including lymphoma. “Through it all, I’ve learned that life is a gift, not a given— and that God has a plan.”
Generous giving is a priority for Guthrie and his family. They enjoy supporting healthcare organizations and global Christian missions, and they fund the Guthrie Family Integrated Business and Engineering Program Scholarship at Haslam.
Although Guthrie no longer serves in a full-time position, he hasn’t slowed down much. “God has given me an insatiable desire to innovate, learn, and work,” he says. “I’ve spent my whole life outliving statistics. I don’t know how much longer I have, but I plan to keep working hard and living beyond expectations.”