It’s common for families and large groups to make custom t-shirts when they visit Disney Parks, but one homemade design has led to a man in need finding a kidney donor. Rob Leibowitz is 60-years-old and had been undergoing kidney dialysis for years. He’s also a self-described Disney fanatic who takes his family to Walt Disney World every other year. When recent steps to find a kidney donor failed, the family tried a hail mary, advertising his need on a t-shirt while walking the theme park. And it worked.
Rob Leibowitz works for an advertising firm, so he knows a thing or two about how to attract attention. He came up with the idea of using a t-shirt and his daughter designed the shirt. According to SFGate, it was a simple white t-shirt with black writing that read “In Need Of Kidney O Positive Call” with his phone number. Leibowitz’s O positive blood was a major stumbling block in his finding a donor as it limited the pool of potential donors. His family was not able to donate either.
As you’d expect, people noticed the shirt as the family wandered Walt Disney World and many took pictures. While inside the Magic Kingdom, Rob Leibowitz met Rocio and Juan Sandoval who posted a picture of Leibowitz in the shirt to Facebook. That’s when things exploded. The photo was shared more than 90,000 times in a week and the phone began to ring. In all, Leibowitz spoke to around 100 people and found 50 who were committed to seeing if they were a transplant match.
Testing went so far as seeing three potential donors fly to New York for secondary tests and while none of them turned out to be a match, eventually Rob Leibowitz heard from Richie Sully a single father from Indiana who did turn out to be a match.
If you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, from a humanity standpoint, there are certainly worse places to look than Walt Disney World. The sheer mass of humanity that wanders the parks on a daily basis might be the most diverse cross-section of mankind in one place on the entire planet. People from every country in the world visit Walt Disney World every day, nevermind every state in the union. It’s virtually a guarantee that the man in need of a kidney was going to walk past somebody who could help him, the only real question was whether he’d find somebody who would help him. While he didn’t find that person in the park itself, the power of social media amplified the message to a place where it could be heard and received. It turns out it really is a small world after all.
The surgery was completed earlier this month and appears to have gone well. Hopefully, that means many more Disney World trips for the Leibowitz family for years to come.