James Andrew Lebowitz was born with a smile. Always happy in the comfort of a loving family, it wasn’t until he started elementary school that his differences became obvious.
His nerves were over-tuned. At times, whispers must have sounded like screams. This bright child who devoured books struggled to write his name. He didn’t fit in with the other kids. An autism specialist confirmed the diagnosis: Asperger’s syndrome. His difficulties were profound enough some educators predicted he’d never live an independent life.
James proved his naysayers wrong. He was kind, sensitive and caring, not an unfeeling automaton. Selfless and devoted special educators put their hearts and souls into helping James, but he did the heavy lifting, overcoming all barriers, smiling brilliantly all the way. In 2014, he was one of only 120 students admitted to Cal Poly Pomona’s Computer Science Program, where he lived in the dorm like any regular student. Friends surrounded him. He was flourishing, in the prime of his life when a brain aneurysm cut short his extraordinary journey.
Always a giver, James saved the lives of five people as an organ donor. His strong heart went to a fellow 18-year-old. One kidney saved the life of San Diegan George Martinez, a substance abuse counselor credited with rescuing a family friend who’d watched James fight and win his own battle. James’ lungs were transplanted into a married educator in his 30s. His right kidney saved the life of a child and his liver is improving the life of a 60-year-old Californian.
Lifesharing advises James is a hero whose gift of tissue also will help heal many and already has given sight to two people.
You can save lives, too. Please register as an organ and tissue donor today by clicking the link below.