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Photo at Magic Kingdom helps New Jersey man find lifesaving kidney donor

Published: Tuesday, December 19, 2017 @ 6:35 AM

Woman Meets Man In Need Of Kidney At Magic Kingdom, Helps Spread Word

While the normal wait for a donor kidney can be as long as a decade, Robert Leibowitz found a match within a few months, thanks to a T-shirt and a trip to the Magic Kingdom.

Leibowitz, a 60-year-old resident of New Jersey, made a T-shirt with his daughter before a trip to Orlando as a way to help search for a kidney donor.

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Rocio Sandoval posted a picture on Facebook of Leibowitz wearing the shirt, which read, “In need of a kidney. O positive. Call 917-597-2651.”

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

She said he was pushing a child in a wheelchair.

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

“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.’”

The photo of Leibowitz went viral on social media, and while he received calls from willing donors with the right blood type, none passed the other requirements.

That is, until Richie Sully picked up the phone. 

Sully, who lives in Indiana, saw the post when it was shared by a friend from Houston.

Knowing he had the correct blood type, Sully hopped on a Greyhound bus to get tested.

He spent 14 hours on the bus and stayed in a hostel so he could get tested, and when the results came back, it turned out he was a perfect match.

"I think that I am still in shock, just the fact that it is real," Leibowitz said Monday in a FaceTime interview with Channel 9. 

Read: Toddler gets kidney from ailing dad's former classmate after Facebook plea

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. 

Read: Wife creates special baseball card to tell husband she is a kidney donor match

Sully said that part of Leibowitz's story hit home for him.

"As a father, I could relate to having kids, and the last thing I would want my kids to worry about every night when they go to bed is how much more time they have with me," Sully said.

Leibowitz family(Photo courtesy: Robert Leibowitz)

Leibowitz 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. 

Read: Seminole County deputy gets new kidney thanks to 8-person kidney exchange

"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."

Sandoval’s Facebook post was shared 33,000 times within 24 hours. 

“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,” Sandoval said.

The fact that the post was not only shared thousands of times, but also resulted in Leibowitz finding a match, was amazing, Sandoval said.

"I am over the moon," she said. "This is like my Christmas miracle."

Read: Florida doctor turns to Facebook to search for a kidney donor

Sully said he was glad he could be there for Leibowitz when he needed it the most.

"Fortunately, I am fairly healthy and I saw this as just another way to help someone," he said. "It just happens to require surgery."

The fact that someone in a different state would see a Facebook post, travel so far and decide to donate a kidney to a complete stranger was more than amazing to Leibowitz.

"It is not like we don't have a cure for kidney disease," he said. "We do. It is humanity. Humanity changed its name to Richie Sully."

The kidney transplant is scheduled for Jan. 18 in New York.

Accounts on GoFundMe and YouCaring have been started to help raise money for the surgery and travel expenses.

Following the surgery, both families plan to reunite in the place where their story started: the Magic Kingdom.

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

Woman accused of killing father, encasing body in concrete for weeks

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 5:20 PM

Dayna Jennings, left, is accused of killing her 69-year-old father, William Mussack, encasing his body in concrete and stashing it in the crawl space of his Federal Heights, Colorado, home. Mussack's remains were discovered Jan. 10, 2018, about five weeks after he was last seen or heard from.
Adams County Jail/Federal Heights Police Department
Dayna Jennings, left, is accused of killing her 69-year-old father, William Mussack, encasing his body in concrete and stashing it in the crawl space of his Federal Heights, Colorado, home. Mussack's remains were discovered Jan. 10, 2018, about five weeks after he was last seen or heard from.(Adams County Jail/Federal Heights Police Department)

In William Mussack’s final text conversation with his son on Dec. 7, the Colorado man relayed a chilling fear: he believed his daughter may have poisoned his food. 

“William described the feeling of being drugged and falling asleep in a recliner chair for 15 hours,” an arrest affidavit obtained by KDVR in Denver read. “He recalled taking a bite from a hamburger, and the hamburger was still on the end table with one bite taken out of it when he awoke.”

Mussack, 69, told his son, Brian Mussack, that his daughter, Dayna Michele Jennings, gave him the hamburger. The day after that discussion, William Mussack vanished. 

Five weeks later, Mussack’s body was found encased in concrete in the crawl space of his Federal Heights home. Jennings, 44, is charged with first-degree murder with extreme indifference and is being held without bond in the Adams County Jail.

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The investigation into Mussack’s disappearance began on Dec. 28, when his brother, Robert Mussack, called the Federal Heights Police Department to request that officers do a welfare check on his brother, whom he had not heard from in several weeks, the affidavit read. It ended in investigators’ grisly discovery on Jan. 10.

Jennings, who was being questioned at the Police Department while a search warrant was executed at her father’s house, admitted to detectives that she poured concrete in the crawl space of the home. Her admissions and cooperation would soon end, however. 

“When Dayna was confronted with the information that investigators on scene were breaking up the concrete in the crawl space, she stated that she wished to speak with a lawyer,” the affidavit read. “At this time, the interview was ended.”

Robert Mussack and other family members and friends told detectives that it was not like William Mussack to go days or weeks without speaking to his loved ones. The last time any of them heard from him was Dec. 8, the day after he told his son about the suspicious hamburger. 

When an officer went to Mussack’s home to check on him on Dec. 28, Jennings told them her father no longer lived there and that she, too, had not seen him in several weeks.

Nothing at the home seemed amiss, so the officer left.

The following day, an officer once again went to the home after speaking to both Robert and Brian Mussack. Brian Mussack told investigators that, prior to that final Dec. 7 text conversation, he ordinarily heard from his father daily.

The concerned son told police officers he believed his sister knew where their father was, but was not telling anyone, according to the affidavit. Family members and William Mussack’s girlfriend all told investigators that the lack of communication was out of character for him, and that he always kept his cellphone with him.

Jennings claimed her father had forgotten his cellphone at the house before leaving on a mountain trip with his girlfriend. The girlfriend told police officers, however, that she last heard from Mussack on Dec. 8, when he agreed to go to a Christmas party with her the following day. 

Despite telling her to RSVP for him, he failed to show up at the party and she was never able to reach him again, the court document read. 

When the officer went inside Mussack’s house on the second visit, on Dec. 29, he noticed a bad smell he described as the smell of “sewage and something rotting,” the affidavit said. When Jennings allowed him to look around, the officer noticed that Mussack’s bed, located in the basement, was covered in women’s clothing and looked as though it hadn’t been used in weeks.

The officer paid a third visit to the home on Dec. 30, at which time Jennings refused to allow him inside. 

Family members received text messages from Mussack’s phone after police began searching for him, but investigators trying to locate the phone through the missing man’s cell service said the phone “pinged” from the area of his home -- even after his daughter claimed he’d stopped by, picked up the phone and some money and left again. 

Brian Mussack also told police officers that his sister sent him text messages claiming that that their father had been abusive toward her and that he couldn’t afford to make his house payment. Family and friends said Mussack was a mild-mannered man who was very frugal and had plenty of money set aside for his retirement.

Despite Jennings’ claims that her father no longer lived there, the house remained in William Mussack’s name, the affidavit said. Three vehicles registered to Mussack were in the driveway.

When a concerned friend texted Jennings on Jan. 5 asking about her father, Jennings responded that her father was in Arizona, “enjoying the sun,” the document said. Mussack’s family said he did not know anyone in Arizona. 

Further investigation showed that someone had been using Mussack’s bank account after he disappeared. Several items were purchased for Jennings from Amazon and a $500 check written to her was cashed on Dec. 29. 

A Wells Fargo branch manager told police that the signature on the check did not match Mussack’s signature, which the bank had on file. 

Jennings’ first husband, Joel Jennings, told police that his ex-wife “adored” her father, but that he believed she might have killed Mussack because it was not like his former father-in-law to disappear and not contact his family, the affidavit read. He described Dayna Jennings as “impulsive and irrational at times” and said her relationships with family members and friends were “intense and unstable.”

Joel Jennings also said that, during a visit to the house on Dec. 31, he saw flooring and carpet that his ex-wife had apparently pulled up and disposed of. Investigators learned that she ordered multiple dumpsters that were delivered to the home and parked out front for several days in December.  

Jennings told investigators that his ex-wife’s massage business, her sole source of income, folded in November. On her business website, The Good Massage, Dayna Jennings wrote on Dec. 1 that she was taking personal leave for a few months “to tend to family and personal needs.”

Joel Jennings told detectives that Dayna Jennings’ second husband, Chris Newton, also moved out of the Mussack home, where they were living together, in November.  Newton reportedly remarried Dec. 9, the day after Mussack was last heard from, the affidavit said

Driver backs up Cadillac Escalade into Florida lake

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 9:22 AM

Cadillac Escalade Gets Backed Up Into Florida Lake By Driver

A driver sank a Cadillac Escalade Tuesday while backing up his boat into Lake Weir, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said.

The man, whose identity wasn't released, was reversing his SUV on a boat ramp at the Carney Island Recreation and Conservation Area when he was unable to put the vehicle back in park, deputies said.

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The vehicle followed the boat into the lake, well past a pair of signs that bear an arrow and the words "caution end of ramp."

The driver escaped the vehicle and was uninjured.

Divers with the Sheriff's Office helped a tow truck driver retrieve the SUV from the water.

Click here for boating safety tips from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Doctor arrested for showing up for surgery inebriated, police say

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 2:49 PM

Kentucky Surgeon Arrested For Arriving To Work Drunk

A plastic surgeon showed up for surgery Monday while intoxicated and was arrested, according to police. 

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Dr. Theodore Gerstle was confronted by the chief medical officer at Baptist Health Lexington and then left the hospital on foot, according to WKYT

Police were then called and took Gerstle into custody. Gerstle was charged with public intoxication.

“Patient safety is always our number one concern,” Ruth Ann Childers, hopsital spokeswoman, told WKYT. “This will be thoroughly investigated.”

Betsy DeVos: Common Core is dead at U.S. Department of Education

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 1:00 PM

What You Need To Know About Betsy DeVos

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave a far-ranging speech today in Washington at an American Enterprise Institute conference, “Bush-Obama School Reform: Lessons Learned.”

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She announced the death of Common Core, at least in her federal agency.

DeVos also decried the federal government’s initiatives to improve education. “We saw two presidents from different political parties and philosophies take two different approaches. Federally mandated assessments. Federal money. Federal standards. All originated in Washington, and none solved the problem. Too many of America’s students are still unprepared,” she said.

And she touched on a favorite topic, school choice.

“Choice in education is not when a student picks a different classroom in this building or that building, uses this voucher or that tax-credit scholarship. Choice in education is bigger than that. Those are just mechanisms,” she said. “It’s about freedom to learn. Freedom to learn differently. Freedom to explore. Freedom to fail, to learn from falling and to get back up and try again. It’s freedom to find the best way to learn and grow… to find the exciting and engaging combination that unlocks individual potential.”