ICU nurse adopts man with autism so he can meet the requirements to receive life-saving heart transplant
An ICU nurse from Georgia adopted a 27-year-old man with autism so he could get a life-saving heart transplant.
When Jonathan Pinkard fell ill last year, he was taken to Piedmont Newman Hospital, where doctors discovered he needed a heart transplant.
If the news wasn’t scary enough, doctors then told Pinkard — who is on the autism spectrum — that he didn’t meet the requirements for a transplant, since one of the conditions is having a support system in place for post-operation recovery, he explained in a video posted to the hospital’s Facebook page.
“I was born and raised with my grandmother, and she passed away in 2012,” Pinkard said. “My mother, she’s in a rehab facility, and she can’t do much.”
Luckily, he met nurse Lori Wood, when she was assigned to him in the hospital in December 2018.
“Jonathan was very sick, but he wasn’t eligible for a transplant because he didn’t have a support system,” Wood told TODAY.
Some of the requirements to getting a transplant is that the patient is responsible enough to protect their health and take any needed medications, TODAY reports. Pinkard had been in and out of the hospital for a few months and often stayed at a men’s shelter.
And since Pinkard doesn’t have any family that can help out, Lori Wood came to his rescue.
Two days after meeting him, she asked 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 this situation there was no choice. It really wasn’t anything I struggled about. He had to come home with me.”
They bonded over football and “Family Feud.”
“Jonathan has his chair, and I have my chair,” Wood told Today. “We like game shows and high-five back and forth if we get an answer right. He is very loving.”
Pinkard underwent a successful transplant in August, and has since moved in with Wood, who helps him take 34 pills a day, Today reported.
She also drives him to doctor’s appointments and is hoping to teach him how to live independently – she’s also helping him with his credit score and he even calls her mama – it’s the sweetest.
He hopes to return to work later this year. Wood says it was a “joy” helping him.
“I had to help him. It was a no-brainer,” Wood told Today. “He would have died without the transplant.”
“She treats me like one of her sons,” Pinkard said. “I am truly thank for that.”
“It’s kind of emotional, but at the same time, this has been a life journey for me,” said Pinkard. “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”