‘There was no choice’: ICU nurse adopts man with autism so he can get life-saving heart transplant

Posted at 3:01 AM, Nov 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-02 03:01:55-04

GEORGIA — An ICU nurse from Georgia adopted a 27-year-old man with autism so he could get a life-saving heart transplant.

According to a video posted to Piedmont Healthcare’s Facebook page, Jonathan Wood was at work one day last year when he fell. He went to Piedmont Newman Hospital and was told he needed a heart transplant.

But he wasn’t able to meet the requirements. 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.

His grandmother passed away in 2012, and he said his mother is in rehab. Wood knew she had to get involved.

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.”

Pinkard had his heart transplant in August. Wood monitors his medications and takes him to doctor appointments. She’s also helping him with his credit score and with independent living. He calls her mama.

He hopes to return to work later this year. Wood says it was a “joy” helping him.

“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.