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

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Confessed Parkland school shooter’s brother arrested for allegedly trespassing at Stoneman Douglas

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 8:40 PM

West Boca High School students walked to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl., February 20, 2018. 
Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post
West Boca High School students walked to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl., February 20, 2018. (Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post)

The brother of confessed school shooter Nikolas Cruz was arrested Monday afternoon for trespassing on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas campus in Parkland, according to the Broward County Sheriff’ Office. 

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Zachary Cruz, 18, told deputies he went to the campus to “reflect on the school shooting and soak it in,” according to the arrest report. 

The sheriff’s office said he rode his skateboard through the campus, passing all locked doors and gates. Deputies said he was previously warned by school officials to stay away from the campus. 

The Worst School Shootings in US History

The sheriff’s office said Zachary Cruz has no connections to Broward County at this time. Before the shootings, he lived with his brother and family friend, Rocxanne Deschamps, in a Lantana-area mobile home. 

>> Related: Florida school shooting timeline: Seven minutes, three floors and 17 dead

Nikolas Cruz, 19, is charged in a 34-count indictment with killing 17 people and wounding 17 others. He is being held without bail at the Broward County Jail after the Feb. 14 school shooting that left 14 students and three adults dead. 

After the fatal shootings, Zachary Cruz was put under a mental-health evaluation. He told investigators that as he drove home with Deschamps after he heard about the shootings he said, "I don't want to be alive. I don't want to deal with this stuff."

>> Related: Florida school shooting: What we know about the victims 

He has denied wanting either to kill or harm himself. 

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Woman’s $12,000 bee sting bill shows how high emergency room costs have climbed

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 3:34 PM

Woman’s $12,000 Bee Sting Bill Shows Rising Emergency Room Costs

How can a two-hour treatment for a bee sting end up costing a patient $12,000? Prices can soar when the patient goes through a barrage of tests and insurance doesn’t cover the bill, but Sylvia Rosas’ case is shining a light on the cost of health care in the country.

It all started with a simple bee sting in her yard in Florida. Rosas had allergic reactions to stings in the past, but didn’t have an EpiPen, so she went to the emergency room, CNN Money reported. Several doctors looked at her sting and ordered blood tests and an EKG to ensure she wouldn’t have a reaction. The visit, which took less than two hours, happened to be at an out-of-network hospital, so her insurance wouldn’t cover it. Rosas had to pay the bill out of pocket.

Now, she’s second-guessing when she needs to see a doctor so she won’t wind up with the bill later.

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Rick Brown found himself in a similar financial situation, CNN Money reported.

He twisted his ankle. After trying to treat it at home to no avail, he went to his local emergency room, on his own crutches, and was seen by a physician assistant. Brown had an X-ray done on him and was given a splint and a prescription, with a suggestion to see a specialist for the fracture. 

He was billed $2,600 for the ER visit. Then, he received a separate bill for $5,700 from the doctor’s office. Insurance paid half of the ER bill, but denied the doctor’s charges because the person who saw him was out-of-network.

Brown said that if he would have known that the bill wouldn’t be covered, he would have waited a few days longer to see someone else.

Officials with the Health Care Cost Institute say ER visits cost an average of $1,917 in 2016. That’s more than 31 percent higher than it did four years before.

The amount billed by the hospital usually covers the facility fee and some tests and services, CNN Money reported. But it usually doesn’t include the cost patients incur for actually seeing a doctor, which is usually billed separately.

The big question is: Why does it cost so much?

Emergency rooms are seeing more patients, and those patients have severe medical problems.

People with cuts and fevers will more likely go to urgent care locations. Patients with chest pain and those suffering from asthma attacks are seen in emergency rooms, and those conditions are more expensive to treat, CNN Money reported.

Emergency rooms also have access to expensive equipment, like CT scans and MRIs.

So where does that leave patients who need care, but don’t want to gamble with their finances?

First, experts told CNN Money that patients don’t need to sign paperwork with the ER that promises to pay in full just to be seen. Federal law says ERs have to screen and stabilize anyone who comes in.

Second, if you’re stuck with a bill, speak with the health care providers. Prices can be negotiable, CNN Money reported. A professor of surgery and health policy at Johns Hopkins University found that hospitals mark up some services as much as 340 percent more than Medicare allowances.

“Prices are highly fluctuant and often negotiable,” Martin Makary told CNN Money. “As with new cars, people are not expected to pay the sticker price.” 

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Alert mail carrier saves man’s life in Georgia

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 7:13 PM

An alert Forsyth County mail carrier is being credited with saving a man’s life. (
An alert Forsyth County mail carrier is being credited with saving a man’s life. (

A Georgia mail carrier is being credited with saving a man’s life.

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Amanda Nalley said her suspicion about uncollected mail led her to check with a neighbor and then call 911.

"I left his mail on the door knob. Tuesday, when I came back, I knew something was wrong because the mail hadn't been picked up," Nalley said.

Nalley, who has delivered mail on the same route for 13 years, told WSB-TV that one of her customers, Rodney Garner, looked forward to her arrival every day and usually waved out the window.

When she realized that Garner had not greeted her or answered his door for two days, she worried something may have happened to him.

And she was right.

Forsyth County sheriff's deputies and EMTs found the 84-year-old man barely conscious on the floor of his bedroom.

They believe he had been in the same location for two days.

"They said he might have had a heart attack or seizure. He was not responding well. His eyes were open a little bit. They said if he had been there another hour he would have passed away," Nalley said.

Gardner, 84, said that he slipped and fell while cleaning, and he looks forward to thanking Amanda Nalley in person. (

He said he had slipped while cleaning the floor in house. 

"I just hit the floor and that was it," Garner said.

He said that the staff at Northside Hospital Forsyth was taking good care of him and he looked forward to thanking Nalley in person for all her help.

"I appreciated that. A man that won't appreciate somebody for saving his life, that's pretty darn sorry," Garner said.

Nalley said she was only doing her job.

"I love my job. I love my customers. Whatever I can do, I just do it," Nalley said.

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Serial bomber Eric Rudolph targeted Olympics, gay club, abortion clinics

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 5:57 PM

At left is a police sketch, based on witness statements, of Eric Robert Rudolph, who bombed the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, as well as a lesbian nightclub there and abortion clinics in Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama. At right, Rudolph is escorted to a court hearing following his capture in Murphy, North Carolina, in 2003, more than five years after his serial bombings ended.
FBI, Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images
At left is a police sketch, based on witness statements, of Eric Robert Rudolph, who bombed the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, as well as a lesbian nightclub there and abortion clinics in Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama. At right, Rudolph is escorted to a court hearing following his capture in Murphy, North Carolina, in 2003, more than five years after his serial bombings ended.(FBI, Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)

As federal, state and local authorities in Texas deal with a string of deadly bombings in Austin, residents in Alabama and Georgia are reminded of a similar terror that arrived under the name of Eric Robert Rudolph.

Rudolph’s reign of terror began at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, where the 1996 Olympic Summer Games were underway. Revelers were enjoying the festive atmosphere when, around 1:20 a.m. on July 27, an explosion rocked the park.

Two people died and another 110 were injured.

Related: ‘Serial bomber’ suspected in Austin explosions, police say

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the 20th anniversary of the bombing that security guard Richard Jewell, who was having trouble with rowdy college kids, went for backup and found Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Tom Davis. When they returned to the area where the kids had been, Jewell spotted an abandoned backpack.

Bomb specialists they called in to deal with the backpack took a look -- and ordered them to evacuate the area immediately, the Journal-Constitution reported. Jewell, Davis and other law enforcement officers cleared the area, including a nearby TV camera tower.

That’s when the bomb exploded.

Spectators tend to injured victims following an early morning explosion in Atlanta's Olympic Centennial Park Saturday, July 27, 1996. The downtown park was crowded with Olympic visitors and revelers at the time of the explosion, which killed a woman and injured more than 100 other people.((AP Photo/Tetsuji Asano, ASAHI SHIMBUN))

“It was just a huge explosion,” Davis told the Journal-Constitution in 2016. “A very loud explosion and a lot of heat. It forced me to the ground. I just saw people laying everywhere, many of them screaming and hurt severely.”

Davis was one of the more than 100 who were injured by shrapnel from the bomb. Nearby, he could see the body of Alice Hawthorne, a 44-year-old mother from Albany who had traveled to Atlanta with her daughter to see the games. 

The second person who died that night was Melih Uzunyol, a Turkish journalist who suffered a fatal heart attack as he rushed to the scene, the Journal-Constitution reported

Jewell, who is now considered a hero for saving the lives of more than two dozen people, was initially considered a suspect in the case. Though he was cleared about three months after the bombing, the cloud of suspicion hung over his head until Rudolph’s arrest.

Jewell died of a heart attack in 2007 at age 44.

John Hawthorne, at right, widower of Alice Hawthorne, the woman killed in the July 27, 1996, Centennial Olympic Park bombing, and Alice's daughter, center, speak after Eric Robert Rudolph was sentenced in August 2005 to the last of four life sentences for the bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and three other bombings, including a bombing at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed an off-duty police officer.((Barry Williams/Getty Images))

Rudolph, who years later issued a detailed manifesto outlining his anti-abortion, anti-gay beliefs, next bombed an abortion clinic in January 1997 in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs. About a month later, he bombed an Atlanta lesbian bar, the Otherside Lounge, injuring five of the patrons there. 

In both of those bombings, Rudolph had planted secondary bombs timed to detonate after police and emergency personnel had arrived, the New York Times reported at the time. In the Sandy Springs bombing at Atlanta Northside Family Planning Services, it was the second bomb that injured six people, including detectives and reporters covering the first explosion. 

Police investigating the bombing at the Otherside Lounge found the second bomb in a backpack in the parking lot, the Times reported. The Atlanta Police Department’s bomb squad used a robot to detonate the device. 

Rhonda Armstrong, a bartender at the club, told the Times a few days after the bombing that patrons at first thought someone had shot a woman there.

“She rolled her sleeve up and had a spike nail through her arm,” Armstrong told the newspaper

All of Rudolph’s bombs were similar in that they used nails and other shrapnel to maim and kill his victims.

Related: For investigators, a race to decode hidden messages in Austin bombings

His final bombing took place Jan. 29, 1998, at New Woman All Women Health Care in Birmingham, where he left a FedEx box packed with dynamite and nails in some bushes near the entrance. As nurse Emily Lyons arrived for work around 7:30 a.m. that morning, she and clinic security guard Robert “Sandy” Sanderson -- also an off-duty Birmingham police officer -- spotted the package. 

As soon as Sanderson touched the package, it exploded, sending shrapnel through his body and killing him instantly, according to Lyons survived the blast, but lost an eye and was left with chronic injuries and pain. 

The bombing was the first fatal bombing of an abortion clinic in the United States.

It was in Birmingham that Rudolph finally slipped up. He used a remote device to detonate the bomb, watching from a distance the explosion that killed Sanderson and maimed Lyons.

Emily Lyons speaks to reporters outside the Richard B. Russell Federal Courthouse in Atlanta before a sentencing hearing for serial bomber Eric Robert Rudolph Monday, Aug. 22, 2005. Lyons survived one of Rudolph's bombings, at a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic, which killed an off-duty policeman. Rudolph received four life sentences for the Birmingham bombing, a deadly bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and two other Atlanta-area bombings.((AP Photo/John Bazemore))

A University of Alabama in Birmingham student who felt his dormitory shake from the blast ran outside. That alert pre-med student, Jermaine Hughes, noticed the sort of odd behavior that, decades later, would help federal investigators pin down the Boston Marathon bombers.

As everyone within blocks of the explosion ran toward the devastation, Rudolph walked in the opposite direction. 

Suspicious, Hughes jumped into his car and drove around Rudolph, who was on foot, to get a good look at his face. Then he ran into a nearby McDonald’s and called police, the Los Angeles Times reported

Jeff Tickal, a lawyer in Birmingham from Opelika, was there eating breakfast when he heard Hughes urging the dispatcher to send help. When he also spotted Rudolph, Tickal began following him. 

Seeing Rudolph disappear into some woods, Tickal got in his own car and began looking for the suspicious man. By happenstance, he found the road where Rudolph had hidden his truck and watched as Rudolph emerged from the woods.

Tickal followed him when he drove away, writing Rudolph’s license plate number on his coffee cup from breakfast, the Los Angeles Times reported. He pulled up beside Rudolph at a light and got a look at his face. 

When the light turned green, Rudolph drove on and Tickal sought out a police officer. By that time, Hughes had also spotted Rudolph behind the wheel and jotted down the truck’s license plate number on an envelope he had in his car.

The combined actions of Tickal and Hughes gave a name to the bomber. 

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Richard D. Schwein Jr., who in 2014 retired from the FBI as the special agent in charge of the Birmingham division, told in 2013 that identifying Rudolph underscored the importance of those witnesses. 

“This kid saw Rudolph as an anomaly, much like (in) the Boston bombings,” Schwein said. “Everybody else was going in one direction; this guy was going in another direction. Everybody else was kind of in a panic and he was calm. And the witness thought right away, ‘This has got to be the bomber,’ and followed him.”

Law enforcement descended on Rudolph’s North Carolina home, but he was nowhere to be found. He was soon on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, but it would be another five years before the avid outdoorsman and survivalist, who vanished in the mountains, would be captured. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was ultimately a small-town police officer who brought one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history to an end. Jeff Postell, a 21-year-old rookie on the Murphy, North Carolina, police force was on patrol around 3 a.m. May 31, 2003, when he spotted a man rummaging for food in a dumpster behind a grocery store.

Though the man, later identified as Rudolph, tried to hide, he was taken into custody.

An image from the FBI's 10 Most Wanted page shows Eric Robert Rudolph as captured following his May 2003 arrest. Rudolph, who bombed the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta, as well as an Atlanta lesbian bar and abortion clinics there and in Birmingham, Alabama, is serving four life sentences without parole for his crimes.((FBI via Getty Images))

Rudolph pleaded guilty to all four bombings in April 2005 to avoid the death penalty, the New York Times reported. He was sentenced to four life sentences without the possibility of parole. 

He remained unrepentant for his actions and, in a statement before the court, called his violent acts against abortion providers a “moral duty.”

“As I go to a prison cell for a lifetime, I know that ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith,’” Rudolph said, quoting scripture

Birmingham clinic bombing survivor Emily Lyons called Rudolph a coward.

“I have more guts in my broken little finger than you have in your whole body,” Lyons said, according to the New York Times

Rudolph is housed at the Florence Supermax federal prison in Colorado, sometimes called the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” He self-published his autobiography, “Between the Lines of Drift: The Memoirs of a Militant,” with help from his brother in 2013. 

Rudolph is unable to receive any proceeds or otherwise benefit from his crimes. 

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