Robert Leibowitz was desperate for a kidney when he decided to take matters into his own hands. He had been waiting on donors lists with no luck, and he was hopeful that a trip to Disney World would be the answer.
You might remember hearing about how the quick-thinking Leibowitz made a shirt that said, “In Need Of Kidney,” along with his blood type and phone number, and wore it around the park. Well, guess what?! The plan paid off!
According to People, Leibowitz just underwent a kidney transplant—made possible by the help of strangers. After wearing his homemade shirt to Disney World in the hopes of getting at least one person’s attention, a complete stranger, Rocio Sandoval, asked if she could take a picture with Leibowitz and post it online. He was more than happy to pose for the photo and told her to, “please share this with the world.” And she did. She posted the photo and some backstory to Facebook, and the post went viral.
In total, the post has been shared over 90,000 times and, shortly after the post was shared, Leibowitz told Babble he had received over 200 text messages. And then one day—he found his match!
Richie Sully, of Indiana, wound up being a perfect match for Leibowitz, who had been searching for a usable kidney for years. He’d been suffering from chronic kidney disease since the age of 12, according to Business Insider. And according to ABC News, he had been receiving 12 hours of dialysis treatment every week for the three years leading up to his T-shirt stunt at Disney. But thanks to Sully, he received a kidney transplant on Jan. 18, according to People magazine.
Sully and Leibowitz’s family have been by his side the entire time, and Leibowitz admits that his donor, once a stranger, is starting to feel like family. “It’s impossible not to feel like brothers. He’s obviously an amazing human being to reach out to a stranger,” Leibowitz told People. “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.”
According to the National Kidney foundation, there were 100,791 people in the U.S. awaiting kidney transplants as of 2016, and the average wait time for a kidney is 3.6 years. So we’re extremely happy that Leibowitz and Sully found each other. And to think—it weren’t for his Disney T-shirt idea, they may never have met. Truly amazing!