Photo of shirt pleading for help with kidney donation went viral
After waiting for years for a kidney donation, a father of five decided to make a t-shirt pleading for help. Then he wore it to Disney World, where a fellow theme park guest snapped a picture and shared it online. Their story has gone viral, and we’re hoping it ends with a new kidney for Robert Leibowitz.
“I am a single dad. I love them more than anything in the world and they are my rocket fuel,” Leibowitz told WFTV. “That’s what keeps me going.” He was with his kids last week at Disney World when he decided to wear a homemade shirt asking for help finding a matching kidney. Rocio Yanira Sandoval was at the theme park with her husband Juan and saw Leibowitz’s shirt. She described their meeting: “Juan asked if we could snap a picture to share online, this man turned around with the biggest smile, so grateful and said ‘Yes, please!’ He gave us both a hug and said ‘Thank you, please share this with the world.'”
Sandoval thought her post might get shared a hundred times since she has about 260 friends on Facebook. But it blew up in the best way possible: it’s been shared more than 83,300 times, and at least 13,000 people have liked or responded to it. More importantly, though, Leibowitz said he’s received at least 200 text messages from people who are O Positive and want to see if they’re eligible to donate their kidney. Sure, Disney is a magical place but hundreds of people feeling inspired to help a man they’ve never met is a miracle.
“The response has been absolutely amazing. I get very emotional about it,” Leibowitz explained. “Over a million people have seen it already, and the calls keep coming in … from all over the country, which is amazing.”
Leibowitz says he’s has had kidney problems since he was 12 years old, and wants to have as much time with his children as he can. “A doctor recently told Leibowitz he needed to go on dialysis three times a week for four hours a day, and receive a transplant,” WFTV reports.
“I was 40 years old,” he said. “I looked healthy. I felt healthy. I didn’t want to believe the doctors. [But] they told me it is a hidden disease.”
After years of hoping for good news, he decided to get creative and make his own shirt for the family trip to Disney. After the incredible response, Leibowitz said he’s “more positive than he’s ever been.” As for his friend who shared the now viral photo, she told reporters she just wanted to help someone but is thrilled with the impact. “Not only do I hope he gets his kidney, but this has raised awareness to the public about donating organs,” Sandoval shared. “There are so many people who are in need.”
About 12 people a day die waiting for a kidney transplant, according to the National Kidney Foundation. There are more than 101,000 people in the United States waiting for a kidney. If you’d like to help Leibowitz, call the donor transplant number on his shirt and see if you’re eligible.