An ICU nurse from Georgia with a heart of gold made headlines when she adopted a homeless man with autism so he could get a life-saving heart transplant. Lori Wood was Jonathan Pinkard’s assigned nurse when he was admitted to the hospital after falling at work. There, he learned that he would need a heart transplant or he would die within six months.
When she learned that Pinkard was homeless, Lori decided right then and there that she would become his legal guardian so that he could get on a waiting list for a new heart. If you’re homeless or don’t have a support system, you can’t get a transplant. But, Lori was not going to let this man die on her watch.
Jonathan had been living at a men’s shelter in Warm Springs, Georgia, where he worked as an office clerk. He had been in and out of hospitals and discharged each time because he had no one to look after him. There are so many people on waiting lists for donated organs that one of the criteria for getting a transplant is having someone to care for you after surgery.
— WJZ | CBS Baltimore (@wjz) November 1, 2019
“They’re going to look at things like do you show up for appointments and follow doctors orders?” said Anne Paschke, spokesperson for United Network for Organ Sharing, told Today. “If you get a transplant and don’t take your immunosuppressive drugs, you’re going to lose it.”
A Kind Nurse Intervenes
After Lori had known Pinkard for just two days after he was admitted to the hospital where she works, she decided to become his legal guardian so that he could have a chance at life. That is probably the ultimate act of kindness.
“I had to help him. It was a no-brainer,” Wood revealed. “He would have died without the transplant.”
Pinkard had a successful heart transplant in August 2019 and took 34 medications a day to manage his health. Lori takes him to his doctor visits and ensures that he takes his pills every day.
Jonathan moved in with Lori and one of her three grown sons, Austin, and though they didn’t know each other very well, they quickly bonded over football and “Family Feud.” Pinkard had nothing but a cellphone to his name, but Lori bought him a whole bedroom set and wanted her home to feel like his.
“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.”
“It’s been a joy having Jonathan here with us,” Wood said. “I knew this is what I was supposed to do.”
Lori says she’s been teaching Jonathan how to cook healthy meals so he doesn’t eat foods too high in sodium, which would be bad for his heart. Jonathan wants a girlfriend, a car, and his own life eventually, but for now, he’s perfectly happy with his new life and family. He’s just thankful he got to have a fresh start with a new, healthy heart.
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