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Facebook photo at Disney helps man get new kidney

Robert Leibowitz needed a new kidney. His daughter and a stranger at Disney made it happen.
Photo by Rocio Sandoval

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – When a 60-year-old New Jersey man went to visit the land of faith, trust and pixie dust, it was a t-shirt that helped grant his wish.

With the help of his daughter, Robert Leibowitz designed a shirt in hopes of finding a donor for a life-saving kidney transplant while at the park. Rocio Sandoval saw the shirt, and asked if she could take a picture for Facebook.

The picture of Leibowitz wearing a shirt to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom that read “In need of a kidney. O positive. Call 917-597-2651,” has been shared over 91,000 times on Facebook. Sandoval announced through the post that a donor was found.

“I just wanted to do something nice for somebody,” Sandoval said. “Honestly, I was hoping it would get shared 100 times in one day.”

Leibowitz said he has suffered 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,” Leibowitz said.

Sandoval's picture was reportedly shared over 33,000 times in the first day after being posted. The photo, now with more than 14,000 likes, was seen by Richie Sully of Indiana.

“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.

Sully got himself tested and found out his kidney was a match. The Leibowitz family expressed their gratitude for Sandoval, who found their father a donor and set up a GoFundMe campaign to pay for Sully's travel to and surgery in New York.

“It is not like we don't have a cure for kidney disease,” Mr. Leibowitz said. “We do. It is humanity. Humanity changed its name to Richie Sully.”

Leibowitz's surgery is scheduled for January 18.

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