Man Gets Kidney with T-Shirt Plea

By Martin, Patrick | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), January 30, 2018 | Go to article overview

Man Gets Kidney with T-Shirt Plea


Martin, Patrick, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


The idea for the T-shirt was a Hail Mary, a play Rob Leibowitz made out of deep desperation.

Leibowitz, 60, had been enduring dialysis for years while his kidneys failed. He was grateful the treatments were keeping him alive, but they were four hours long, three days a week, a challenging commitment for a single father of five working full time. He needed someone to give him a kidney.

The search for a donor was complicated by his blood type, O Positive, which makes him a universal donor, but only able to receive a kidney from a person with his blood type. Leibowitz's children could not donate to him for medical reasons.

He was on the list to receive a kidney from a deceased donor at four New York area hospitals, but the waiting was seven to 10 years long, and his health was declining.

"Your body is deteriorating every single year, said Leibowitz, who lives in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Leibowitz said as he waited and searched for a donor, he was determined to enjoy his life, which included taking vacations with his kids. A self-described Disney fanatic, Leibowtiz takes them to Walt Disney World about every other year.

"Most of the time parents go to Disney for their kids. My kids go for me, he said of his children, ages 15 to 32.

When planning a trip to Disney World for August 2017, Leibowitz came up with the idea to make a shirt asking for a kidney donation. He works for an advertising firm, so he knows a thing or two about how to connect people with messages.

"I wanted to get off dialysis, I wanted 25 more years with my kids, he said. "If I can get one person's attention, that's one more than I have.

His daughter designed the shirt, and he spent about $35 to get it printed. The white T-shirt had simple black writing on the front and back: "In Need Of Kidney O Positive Call and it listed a phone number.

"Where else am I going to get more exposure than Disney World with hundreds of thousands of people walking around every day? Leibowitz said. "And maybe I'd get a little pixie dust.

At the Disney parks, Leibowitz saw people were noticing his shirt and taking pictures. In the Magic Kingdom, Leibowitz met Rocio and Juan Sandoval who posted a picture of his T-shirt on Facebook.

In the photo, Leibowitz was pushing his son Max in a wheelchair. The wheelchair was for Leibowitz in case he got tired of walking, but he was feeling well, so Max, who is able-bodied, jumped in for a ride. …

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