Robert Leibowitz was desperate to find a kidney donor, as he was suffering from chronic kidney disease. The single dad then decided to go about doing something very unusual to get a donor, and it paid off in a huge way!
Robert, a 60 year-old resident of New Jersey, headed to Disney World wearing a t-shirt that read, “In Need Of Kidney O Positive Call 917-597-2651.” A few weeks later, he had found a donor!
“It’s still difficult to absorb that the T-shirt actually worked!” he said. “When I did it, I was hoping if I could just get one person who’s a potential match, that would be worth it. But the fact that … hundreds of people started to call me. I’m thrilled that good people reached out.”
Robert travelled to Disney World with his family in August, and as he walked around wearing the shirt, he was approached by Rocio Sandoval, who asked if she could take a photo of it to post on Facebook. The photo went viral and was seen by Richie Sully of Indiana, who turned out to be a perfect match.
Last week, Rocio successfully donated a kidney to Leibowitz at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Rocio has gone to visit Robert every day since the surgery.
“It’s impossible not to feel like brothers. He’s obviously an amazing human being to reach out to a stranger,” Robert said. “He’s a very humble person. He thinks this is what he should do and what everybody should do, and he wants to make being a donor as common as giving blood. So the fact that he’s like that is pretty amazing.”
Robert can’t believe that he finally has the kidney that he’s been waiting for for so long!
“The fact that I have another 20-plus years with my kids,” he said, “I’m happy as can be.”
Robert is planning to take another vacation to Disney World with his family when he recovers.
“That’s our goal. Richie’s my hero,” Robert said. “Our goal is to just reunite and give each other a big group hug, because that’s where all the magic happened.”