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ICU Nurse Adopts Autistic Man So He Could Get Life-Saving Heart Transplant

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ICU nurse Lori Wood was used to seeing patients in desperate need of help and stepping in where she could. When she heard that Jonathan Pinkard needed a heart transplant but couldn’t receive one due to a missing requirement, Lori’s heart broke for him. The nurse couldn’t just sit idly by. So she made a decision that would change both Jonathan’s life and hers forever.

A Terrifying Dilemma

At work one day, 27-year-old Jonathan fell gravely ill. He was taken to Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Newnan, Georgia, where he came in contact with nurse Lori Wood. Jonathan, who was autistic, was told by doctors that he would need a heart transplant to survive. That news itself was scary but what was even more terrifying and shocking was Jonathan learning that he didn’t quite meet the requirements to receive one.

One of the conditions of getting a transplant is that the patient has to be responsible enough to take care of his health afterward and take any necessary medications. Jonathan had been in and out of the hospital for a few months and often stayed at a men’s shelter. He also had lost his grandmother in 2012 and his mother was in rehab so there was no one that could really help him out post-recovery.  “Jonathan was very sick, but he wasn’t eligible for a transplant because he didn’t have a support system,” Lori said in an interview with TODAY.

A Unique Solution

After only two days of meeting and working with Jonathan, Lori saw that this was a special young man. She was devastated that these obstacles were affecting his chance to live. Knowing that he would die without this transplant, she felt compelled to step in to help him in a big way. So she asked Jonathan if she could be his legal guardian to help him out.

“I had a room, I was a nurse, I could take care of him. It wasn’t really anything I struggled about. It was just something that had to happen. He had to come home with me,” the nurse recalled in a video posted by the hospital. “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.”

An Unbreakable Bond

After Lori became Jonathan’s legal guardian, he was able to have his heart transplant and has been staying with Lori. The nurse is there to make sure he takes all of his medication (a whopping 34 pills a day) and takes him to doctor appointments. In addition to this, Lori is assisting Jonathan with becoming more of an independent adult by helping him with his credit score among other things.

The two have really developed a great bond that is much like mother and son. At Lori’s home, “Jonathan has his chair, and I have my chair,” she shared with TODAY. “We like game shows and high-five back and forth if we get an answer right. He is very loving.” For Jonathan, he is forever grateful that Lori stepped up to the plate to help save his life. “She treats me like one of her sons. I am truly thankful for that.” he shared. The man has plans to return to work very soon. “It’s kind of emotional, but at the same time, this has been a life journey for me,” Jonathan shared of his experience. “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

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