(CBS Local) — A trip to Disney’s Magic Kingdom proved to be just what the doctor ordered for a father in desperate need of a new kidney this summer. After a woman’s photo of the New Jersey dad’s t-shirt went viral on Facebook, a donor has stepped forward to save the man’s life.
Robert Leibowitz says he has been suffering from kidney disease since he was 12. The single father of five decided to take a trip with his children to the Orlando theme park in August as he waited on the kidney transplant list. “I love them more than anything in the world and they are my rocket fuel. That’s what keeps me going,” the 60-year-old said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Leibowitz and his daughter saw the trip as an opportunity to take their search public and designed a t-shirt which read, “In need of a kidney. O positive. Call 917-597-2651.” Fellow Magic Kingdom visitor Rocio Sandoval saw the dad’s shirt and asked if she could take a picture to post online. “I just wanted to do something nice for somebody. Honestly, I was hoping it would get shared 100 times in one day,” Sandoval said.
Sandoval’s picture was reportedly shared over 33,000 times in the first day after being posted. Since Aug. 27, the post has been shared over 91,000 times and liked by more than 14,000 people. More importantly, the viral photo has found Leibowitz a match.
Richie Sully of Indiana, who saw the post after it was shared by one of his friends, got himself tested and found out his kidney was a match for Mr. Leibowitz. “The last thing I would want my kids to worry about every night when they go to bed is how much more time they have with me,” Sully said.
The Leibowitz family expressed their gratitude to Rocio Sandoval, whose picture found their father a donor, and has already set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for Mr. Sully’s travel and the Jan. 18 surgery in New York.
“It is not like we don’t have a cure for kidney disease,” Mr. Leibowitz added. “We do. It is humanity. Humanity changed its name to Richie Sully.”