A woman took a photograph of Leibowitz’s shirt and posted it on Facebook, where it reportedly went viral.
Leibowitz, who had been on a list for a donor kidney for four years and was told that there would be a seven- to 10-year wait, said the Facebook photo lead to calls, voicemails and text messages from dozens of strangers.
“I got my doubts sometimes about humanity, but the fact that I got so many calls, it brought tears to my eyes,” he told the Associated Press.
Four potential donors came to New York for additional testing, which led to one match, which was a perfect match.
After passing the initial tests Richie Sully of Indiana, took a 16-hour bus ride to New York for further testing while he stayed in a hostel, all at his own expense. Sully told New York Daily News the day after his donor surgery on Thursday that what he did “is really not a big deal,” and that he would do it again if he could. He has visited Leibowitz every day since he was discharged on Friday, according to People magazine. Leibowitz is scheduled to be discharged on Monday.
“I just saw a father that wanted to spend more time with his kids,” Sully told the AP. He said the voicemail he left after seeing Leibowitz’s T-shirt was “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.”
The two men became fast friends on Sully’s several visits to New York ahead of the surgery. The men and their families plan to visit Disney World together after Leibowitz is fully healed.
While insurance covers the cost of the kidney transplant for both Leibowitz and Sully, the travel expenses are not included. Sully will have to remain in NYC for two weeks following the surgery. A YouCaring Account has been set up to offset some of those costs.