Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, and The Moth and The Flame teamed up to save the life of Corey Fox — a Provo, Utah, concert venue owner who helped them all get their start in the music industry.
When Fox, owner of Velour Live Music Gallery, had chronic kidney failure and desperately needed a new organ, the bands took time off from their tours to throw a benefit concert in April 2016. They raised funds to assist with the transplant and venue costs during his recovery.
And Fox’s donor actually played in the show.
The Moth and The Flame band member Brandon Robbins turned out to be a perfect donor match for Fox, and the two became “blood brothers” after the successful kidney transplant in December 2016.
“We’re family, we’re blood brothers,” Robbins, 29, tells PEOPLE. “It just felt right to get tested and to do this for him, because he’s done so much for all of us.”
Adds Fox, “He saved my life. The bands that play at Velour are like family.”
Fox was diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of 15 and went into chronic kidney failure in 2013. When his kidneys began functioning at only 14 percent, doctors told him he would need to be put on the transplant list.
So, the music venue owner waited patiently. But in 2015, his kidneys were only functioning at about 9 percent.
“I was dying,” says Fox. “I was on that verge, because when your kidneys are gone — you are dead.”
Fox — who works with Grammy Award-winning bands like Imagine Dragons — was surprised when the groups he hosts at his Provo, Utah, venue volunteered to play a special fundraising and awareness benefit concert.
In April 2016, Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees and The Moth and The Flame took breaks from their tours and came to Utah to participate in the #FixTheFox campaign — all in an effort to find Fox a kidney and help him with transplant and venue costs.
“Corey is a local legend,” says Robbins. “I remember as a young musician, he complimented me and encouraged me to keep playing, and that was high praise. That gesture had such an impact on me that I did continue, and he continued to support and help me along the way.
“We hung out more and more and quickly became good friends.”
Adds Fox, “I’ve always thought of my bands as family, but this was just overwhelming.”
After the concert, Fox thought he’d found a donor — a close friend who got tested and was found to be a match.
“But at the last minute, they did more testing and rejected him,” explains Fox. “It was devastating because we had already set up the date for the transplant.
“It was overwhelming and I really started thinking about mortality — which seemed like a closer and closer reality.”
That’s when Robbins, who describes Fox as one of his “closest friends,” stepped in.
“I didn’t think I had the right blood type at first,” says Robbins. “But when I found out his match was no longer a match, I was shocked and just felt like I needed to go and get tested.
“It just felt right.”
Turns out he was a perfect match. In December 2016, the two men underwent successful transplant surgery.
“He’d been involved in the concert, but this transplant is a very surreal and emotional thing,” explains Fox. “He saved my life.”
Fox and Robbins celebrated their six-month transplant milestone in June; both are in good health and excited for a long future.
“We are working on our next album right now,” says Robbins. “And I’m channeling a lot of the emotion from the transplant in it, it’s going to be really strong and powerful — just like this whole process.”
Adds Fox, “I can’t wait to hear it. It was an emotional and intimate ordeal, and I’m sure it will become beautiful music.”