Concerts to commemorate 50 years since first organ transplant

The brother of the first person to donate an organ is organising a series of concerts to mark 50 years since the first transplant in Bristol and the south west region.

Clive Hook’s brother Ellis was 18 years old when he was killed in an accident as he rode home from work on his motorcycle in 1968 in Stoke Bishop, Bristol.  At that time organ transplants were rare in the UK and had never been carried out in Bristol or the south west region.  Southmead Hospital had recently employed a transplant surgeon to set up a new service and Ellis’ parents made the brave decision to allow their son’s kidney to be donated.  The recipient was a young mum at the time, from Bristol who became a great-grandmother and lived until her recent death aged 75.

October 31 marks the 50th anniversary of the first organ transplant at Southmead Hospital, and in Bristol and the south west region, and of course marks 50 years since Ellis’ death.

Clive and his sister are organising a series of concerts called the ‘Great Big Kidney Thank You’ in Westbury on Trym to raise money for Southmead Hospital Charity’s transplant fund and to mark this milestone.

On October 31 and November 1 there will be three choral concerts – including a communion service – and a fourth all-day music festival on Saturday November 3.  La Voix Claire, a 45-strong choir from France, led by Clive and Ellis’s sister Frances, will also be performing.

Clive said: “The Great Big Kidney Thank You is everybody’s chance to say “thank you” for the life-saving and life-giving miracle work that Southmead Hospital continues to do.  Ellis’ death was a family tragedy but we’re pleased and proud that my parents’ decision gave the gift of life to someone. For us, that means his loss was not a total waste”

Elizabeth Bond, head of fundraising at Southmead Hospital Charity, said: “For 50 years Southmead Hospital has been at the forefront of transplants, enabling people to change lives and save lives through organ donation.  Ellis and his family’s story is so moving, and we are proud that his family want to support the hospital charity and mark this special milestone that began with Ellis.  Money raised from these concerts will enable our transplant teams to continue and improve their vital work in connecting recipients and donors, extending and saving lives.”

Sylvia Crump, Specialist Nurse for the Organ Donation team in the South West, said: “We know that Organ Donation saves people’s lives and we are so grateful to the family of Ellis Hook and every family since that have consented to Organ Donation.  Together they have transformed or saved the lives of thousands of people. More families than ever are agreeing to organ donation but there is still an urgent shortage. We need more families to say yes to organ donation, so that more lives can be saved.”

To get tickets to the Great Big Kidney Thank You, visit the Facebook page #thegreatbigkidneythankyou or

Photo of Ellis, aged 18, shortly before he died in 1968.

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