Around 5:30 a.m. on March 12, Robert Barbour of Bradenton, Florida, was on his way to Tampa General Hospital for a long-awaited kidney transplant. Arnette German, his friend and caregiver, was with him.
Barbour, 48, had been on the transplant list for 12 years and was determined to arrive at the hospital on time.
With only 15 minutes until his 6 a.m. appointment, they got a flat tire.
German called 911 as they kept driving on the tire's flat rim.
"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," German told the dispatcher.
Tampa Police officers George Boyd and Jason DeRocco found Barbour and German driving near police headquarters a few minutes later.
Barbour told the officers his story, and they sprung to action. Realizing that it would take longer to change the tire than it would to just give Barbour and German a ride to the hospital, the officers directed them to park in front of police headquarters — so they wouldn't be towed — then drove them to the hospital, lights and sirens clearing traffic the entire way.
"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 told WFTS-Tampa.
They arrived on time for Barbour's appointment. He received his new kidney as planned.
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"With them taking the extra step to get me there on time, that made a big difference to me," Barbour told Bay News 9.
On Thursday, Barbour, who is recovering well, thanked the officers. They signed a stuffed kidney for him.
"I’ll always remember this call, it’s going to mean something to me for the rest of my career," said Officer Boyd. "It's a call that makes you feel good at the end of the day and you don't get very many calls like that."