A soon-to-be kidney transplant recipient ran into road problems on the way to the hospital but made it there just in time with the help of a 911 operator and a police escort.
Robert Barbour, 48, spent 12 years on the kidney transplant list and early in the morning on March 12, finally received the call he was waiting for. As reported by WTSP 10 News, at around 5:30 a.m., Barbour and Arnette German, his girlfriend and caregiver, headed from Bradenton to Tampa General Hospital because a kidney had become available.
The two were on their way to Barbour’s 6 a.m. appointment when, as WFTS ABC Action News reports, the truck he was driving had a blow out. He got out to change the tire, but saw that they only had 15 minutes until the appointment, so he decided to drive on the flat as German called 911. She explained their situation, and said, “We’re not that far from Tampa General but his tire became flat and I don’t know how to change the tire. He’s panicking.” The emergency operator said someone would be sent out to them, but with the urgency of the transplant, Barbour continued to drive on the rims for several more blocks. The two pulled over when they got a call back from the 911 operator informing them that a police car would be there shortly.
At a recent reunion with the officers, Barbour explained what happened that morning, "They said, 'Hey are you the guy that's looking for a kidney?' And I was like, 'Yes I am the guy.'" Ms. German continued to recount the story, "Officer DeRocco was like, 'Ok so what time do you have to be there?' And we were like, '6 a.m.' He was like, ‘Uh, that's like in the next 2, 3 minutes.’ So to see all these sirens and he was like, ‘Hold on!’” Tampa Police Officers Jason DeRocco and George Boyd made the quick decision to get Barbour and German in the back seat of their cruiser and escort them to the hospital.
Footage from the police vehicle shows Barbour smiling on the way to Tampa General. Barbour recalled, "I started getting excited because I knew we were going to get there on time and you know I didn't expect when we got to the hospital that the police was going to escort me to the operating room, but you know that was real fun."
Barbour made it to the hospital in time and received his new kidney. The officers received praise from the Tampa Police Department Chief Jane Castor, who noted that the two never mentioned the incident, and it only became known when Barbour reached out to the police department to thank the officers. Humbly, the officers said they received their own gift on that early morning.
Officer DeRocco said, "After looking at this awesome smile from the video I have to say that there's some things in this life that you can't put a value on, that are just essentially priceless, and that was one of them."