Woman meets stranger at Magic Kingdom, helps spread word about search for kidney

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A 60-year-old New Jersey man in need of a kidney is hoping the magic of Disney may be able to help him out.

A woman at the park took to Facebook to tell the man’s story and get the word out after meeting him at Magic Kingdom on Tuesday.

Rocio Sandoval posted a picture on Facebook of the man, named Robert Leibowitz, who was wearing a shirt that read, “In need of a kidney. O positive. Call 917-597-2651.”

She said he was pushing a child in a wheelchair.

Sandoval said she approached Leibowitz and asked if she could snap a picture and share it online.

“This man turned around with the biggest smile, so grateful, and said, ‘Yes, please!’” she said. “He gave us both a hug and said, ‘Thank you. Please share this with the world.’”

Leibowitz said he has had kidney problems since he was 12 years old and wants to have as much time with his children as he can.

"I am a single dad. I love them more than anything in the world and they are my rocket fuel. That's what keeps me going," he said.

A doctor recently told Leibowitz he needed to go on dialysis three times a week for four hours a day, and receive a transplant.

Leibowitz is on five different donor lists.






He said his 14-year-old daughter came up with the idea for the shirt and that he knew wearing it on his Disney trip would help him get a lot of exposure.

"I figured that is the best place to do it in a week," he said. "It is very hard to get a kidney and there are not a lot of donors out there, or with O positive (blood type). I am universal, but I have to get an O back."

Leibowitz said he was shocked at the amount of people trying to help him out.

"The response has been absolutely amazing. I get very emotional about it," he said. "Over a million people have seen it already and the calls keep coming in in terms of text and phone calls from all over the country, which is amazing."

Sandoval’s Facebook post was shared 33,000 times within 24 hours. By Monday, it had been shared more than 64,000 times.

“I just wanted to do something nice for somebody.  Honestly, I was hoping it would get shared 100 times in one day, because I only have like, 260 friends on Facebook,” said Sandoval.

Anyone interested in donating would have to call the donor transplant number and say they would like to see if they are eligible to donate to Robert Leibowitz.

Becoming an Organ Donor

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 123,000 Americans are on a waiting list to receive an organ transplant and more than 101,000 need a kidney.

The foundation said 17,000 people receive one each year and that 12 people a day die waiting for a kidney.

Deceased Donation

You can visit the Donate Life America website to join your state's online registry for donation. You can also declare your intentions on your driver's license.

The National Kidney Foundations says letting your family or other loved one's know about your decision is vitally important. Family members are often asked to give consent for a loved one's donation.

Living Donation

You can also consider being a living kidney donor. Living donation is when when a living person donates an organ or part of an organ to someone in need of a transplant. The donor is most often a close family member, such as a parent, child, brother or sister. A donor can also be a more distant family member, spouse, friend or co-worker.

Religion and Organ Donation

Virtually all religious denominations approve of organ and tissue donation as representing the highest humanitarian ideals and the ultimate charitable act, the foundation says