New Jersey resident Robert Leibowitz, 60, needed a plan. His kidneys were running at just 5 percent and hope for a transplant was dismal with a projected 7-10 years to wait. No one close to him was a match and he knew he was running out of time.
This father of five had been battling kidney disease since he was 12. Over the past 15 years, he became chronically ill. His plan may have seemed far-fetched to some, but it sounded brilliant to us.
Leibowitz needed to reach a lot of people. Once reached, he had to make sure they would take time to listen or read his printed request. Would complete strangers step up if they knew about his crucial need for a kidney. Maybe, but he had to have the right platform to deliver his message.
His method of delivery was a custom t-shirt.
In late August, 2017, Leibowitz took his children and his t-shirt to the most magical place on earth – Disneyworld – and walked and walked for one week. His message was simple: “In Need of Kidney. O Positive,” with an invitation to contant him by phone.
At this magical place, visitors took notice, taking photographs and posting them on social media. One post on Facebook earned 32,000 shares in ONE DAY. At the end of the week, shares were over 90,000.
Leibowitz got hundreds of calls from complete strangers who wanted to help.
According to CNN, finding an exact match was still a long shot, “Just because you are a blood type match, doesn’t mean…you’re going to be a match,” Leibowitz said. “They look at every enzyme, every single tissue. There are so many details they have to do.”
Of the hundreds of thousands who saw the t-shirt, four generous people agreed to be tested. Richie Sully was one of the four. He saw the Facebook post and without hesitation, called the number on the t-shirt and left a message, “Hi, my name is Richie. I saw your post and I’m O positive. I have an extra kidney and you are more than welcome to it.”
Sully and Leibowitz came through the organ transplant without a hitch. The New York Daily News captured this:
And, that is the story of one t-shirt that saved a father’s life. Of course, none of it would have been possible without Mr. Sully’s enormous generosity.