A Remarkable Story
By Clive Hook
My brother Ellis Hook was an apprentice baker in a local company, Mounstevens, and had to get to work near Eastville in the
early morning. His working day started at 0530 and finished at 1530 – long days, but he loved the work and the camaraderie of the bakery shop floor.
After more than a year of completing the journey from Westbury-on-Trym by push bike he was old enough, and had earned enough, to get his first motorbike. Although his rather battered Ariel Arrow was his taste of motorised freedom he longed for a better bike and soon he got his beloved Royal Enfield 250GT – with bright red fibreglass tank.
On Thursday 31st October 1968 he was nearly home when a car pulled out in front of him at the Reedley Road crossroads on Parry’s Lane and Ellis collided with the side of the vehicle.
He was wearing a helmet (my parents would never have allowed him to have a bike without one) but this was not enough to save him, and he suffered significant brain lacerations in the accident.
This was the end of Ellis’s life at 18 years old, but a whole new chapter for someone else and for Southmead Hospital. The surgeon Humphrey White (had been drafted into Bristol from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge to start a transplant programme in the South West) saw an opportunity to carry out the first kidney transplant in Bristol and had three or four potential recipients – all of whom had total renal failure and were on dialysis.
My parents agreed to his being a donor in the hope and belief that, out of their tragedy, someone might get a chance of a new life. That person was a 25 year old local woman who had been waiting for nine months. She was not the first in the queue. The three before her all turned down the opportunity because the procedure was so risky and the outcomes very uncertain.
She hoped she’d at least see her three-year-old daughter for a few more years but – nearly fifty years later – her daughter is married, she has grandchildren and the original kidney is still in full working order. It’s very likely she is the longest surviving recipient of a kidney from a “stranger donor” in the world.
In October and November 2018 Clive organised events to mark 50 years of a transplant and to raise awareness of the wonderful work that continues at the hospital. Funds were raised for the Southmead Hospital Charity, Kidney Research UK, The Family Donor Network, BAKPA and the National Kidney Federation.