Like anyone, he wore a T-shirt as he visited Walt Disney World last year, but his shirt was different from everyone else’s. It was his plea for life-saving surgery. Rob Leibowitz was looking for a kidney donor.
Leibowitz told WFTV that he had kidney problems since he was 12 years old and he wanted to have as much time with his children as he could.
A photo of the shirt went viral after being shared on Facebook. In the first 24 hours after posting, it had 30,000 shares. Now it has more than 90,000 shares. The unusual shirt did its job.
Richie Sully, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, was helping victims of Hurricane Harvey by donating blood when a friend showed him the photo of Leibowitz shirt. He called and left a voicemail, WPIX reported.
Sully is a single dad who took time off of work to travel from Indiana to New York for two weeks to get to know Leibowitz.
“We walked around Manhattan for like six hours and we had sushi and he took me to Times Square. And we talked about music and about being dads and things like that. And really hit it off,” Sully told WPIX.
Last week, Sully gave Leibowitz another chance at life when the pair underwent surgery, transplanting Sully’s kidney into Leibowitz, WPIX reported.
Now they all plan on going to Disney World together and they’re inviting the couple who helped make Leibowitz story go viral.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, 123,000 Americans are on a waiting list to receive an organ transplant and more than 101,000 need a kidney.
The foundation said 17,000 people receive one each year and that 12 people a day die waiting for a kidney.
You can visit the Donate Life America website to join your state's online registry for donation. You can also declare your intentions on your driver's license.
The National Kidney Foundations says letting your family or other loved ones know about your decision is vitally important. Family members are often asked to give consent for a loved one's donation.
You can also consider being a living kidney donor. Living donation is when when a living person donates an organ or part of an organ to someone in need of a transplant. The donor is most often a close family member, such as a parent, child, brother or sister. A donor can also be a more distant family member, spouse, friend or co-worker.
Religion and Organ Donation
WFTV contributed to this report.