A 60-year-old man from New Jersey has been fighting chronic kidney disease and was going through dialysis three days a week. A transplant was the only way for him to recover and be truly healthy again. He had been in need of a kidney for three years already. Never in his wildest imagination did he think he’ll “find” the kidney he was looking for somehow in the magical place of Disney World.
Robert Leibowitz, a single father of five, went to Disney World over the summer wearing a white shirt with the statement: “In Need of Kidney.” Little did he know, that would be his ticket to healing.
While on a vacation to the Magic Kingdom, a stranger took a photo of him and his shirt’s statement, posted it with a message on Facebook. The social media post about Leibowitz’s special handmade shirt became viral. More importantly, someone responded positively to help Leibowitz with his predicament. He got his donor.
Rocio Yanira Sandoval took the initiative of taking Leibowitz’s photo, with his “statement shirt” and posted it on popular social media platform Facebook. It got 90,000 Facebook shares in just a week. Richie Sully, 39, a father of two from Fort Wayne, Ind., saw the post and did not hesitate to offer his help.
The Good Samaritan said: “I have an extra kidney, it’s not like I need them both.”
Leibowitz underwent the transplant last week in New York. The good news is both Leibowitz and Sully are doing well after the surgery.
Leibowitz could not contain his joy and gratitude for what Sully did for him. He shared: “There are no words, no mater how much I say how much I appreciate.”
He also could not quite believe that his simple act of wearing a shirt to Disney World would change his fate, although he hoped someone would respond to his “walking advertisement.” He recalled: “I thought, ‘You know if I can get one person who’s my blood type to just respond and maybe that’s my match…You know it’s worth the $35 investment for the shirt.” Three days after Sandoval posted the photo and the message, Leibowitz said he was just walking in the park and his phone wouldn’t stop ringing.
Leibowitz is also planning a sweet celebration and a thanksgiving. He plans on taking his donor Sully and the Facebook user Sandoval to Disney World to treat them and celebrate together his fairy-tale ending.