Lifestyle & Human Interest

ICU Nurse Adopts Man with Autism so He Can Receive Life-Saving Heart-Transplant


After a 27-year-old man with autism from Georgia was taken off of the heart donor list, his chance of recovery disappeared.

Thanks to a kind-hearted ICU nurse, however, he was able to receive the transplant that helped save his life.

Jonathan Pinkard, who had been in and out of the hospital after he fell at work, learned he would be taken off the transplant list because he didn’t have a support system.

“Jonathan was very sick, but he wasn’t eligible for a transplant because he didn’t have a support system,” ICU nurse Lori Wood told “Today.”

“One of the requirements is that you have someone to care for you afterwards.”

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Pinkard said his grandmother died in 2012 and his mother is in rehab in a video posted on Piedmont Newnan Hospital’s Facebook page.

When the hospital would discharge him in the past, it was often to a men’s shelter because he had nowhere else to go.

Wood became Pinkard’s nurse in December 2018 and when she learned that he had been taken off the donor list because of his lack of support, she knew she needed to help.

Even though she had only known him for two days, Wood asked Pinkard if she could be his legal guardian.

“When you’re a nurse and you’re wanting to fix and help people, that can be very frustrating,” Wood said in the video.

“At some point, God places people in situations in your life, and you have the choice to do something about it. And I guess for me, for this situation there was no choice,” she added. “It really wasn’t anything I struggled about. It was just something that had to happen. He had to come home with me.”

Pinkard received his transplant in August and Wood has been transporting him back and forth from his doctor’s appointments and ensuring that he takes his medication, according to “Today.”

The two have bonded over “Family Feud” and football.

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“Jonathan has his chair, and I have my chair,” Wood said. “We like game shows and high five back and forth if we get an answer right. He is very loving.”

Wood has also been teaching Pinkard other life skills like how to improve his credit so he can live more independently.

Pinkard now calls Wood “Mama.”

“It’s kind of emotional, but at the same time, this has been a life journey for me,” Pinkard said in the video. “If it weren’t for her, I would not be the person I am today.”

Wood not only is inspiring others, but she also won Piedmont Newnan Hospital President’s Award for her selfless act.

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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