Driver who delivers organs gets new kidney he's spent more than a decade waiting for

Joe Tinker spent more than 12 years on dialysis with a failing kidney until the organ delivery driver got a transplant himself in August.

The Southeast D.C. man had been rejected for a kidney transplant before and in the last two years had been working as a delivery driver for a company which coordinates deliveries of organs to transplant patients who need them.

Tinker's doctors at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital say advancements in medical procedures for organs from donors infected with hepatitis C allowed Tinker to receive a kidney faster than if he had kept waiting for a kidney without the infection.

"I didn't want to sit in the house waiting to die," said Tinker.

In August, Tinker got the transplant and his prognosis is good, according to Dr. Jennifer Verbesey, who specializes in transplants at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

"Hepatitis C organs used to be thrown out and now we know that we can use them for hepatitis C-positive patients, which is great," said Dr. Verbesey. "His prognosis is great. His kidney is working very well and his hepatitis C is undetectable at this point and I expect him to have this kidney for many, many years."

According to Tinker, now that he's benefited from the donation process, he plans to continue picking up and delivering organs for transplant.

Dr. Verbesey says she and her team will soon likely be able to transplant hepatitis C-positive organs to negative recipients and treat them to cure the hepatitis C. That would allow doctors to expand the donor pool even further.