Nurse Adopts Man With Autism So He Can Have Life-Saving Heart Transplant

by : Lucy Connolly on : 01 Nov 2019 09:59
Nurse adopts patient for heart transplantPiedmont Healthcare/Facebook

An ICU nurse adopted a 27-year-old man just two days after meeting him so the man could have a life-saving heart transplant.

Jonathan Pinkard, from Georgia, was told he needed a heart transplant after suddenly falling ill last year. However, he couldn’t be placed on the transplant list as he didn’t meet the requirements.


Because he didn’t have a support system in place for when he left the hospital – with his grandma having passed away seven years ago – doctors at Piedmont Newnan Hospital couldn’t go through with the life-saving procedure.

That is, until Lori Wood stepped up to the plate:

The President’s Award is the culminating event of Piedmont’s Promise 360 employee recognition program that awards deserving employees who go above and beyond for patients, visitors or their co-workers. Nominees to the President’s Award include one Promise 360 Champion and two Spotlight winners who represent each Piedmont hospital and entity. The 2018-2019 winner is Lorinda (Lori) Wood, staff RN, PACU from Piedmont Newnan Hospital.

Posted by Piedmont Healthcare on Friday, October 4, 2019

Pinkard, who is on the autism spectrum, explained the events which led to him being put in this situation in a video posted to the hospital’s Facebook page.


The 27-year-old said he was working when he had a sudden ‘episode,’ which resulted in him falling on the floor. From there, he was rushed to Piedmont Newnan Hospital where he met Lori.

He described being ‘born and raised’ by his grandmother, who passed away in 2012, before adding: ‘My mother, she’s in a rehab facility, and she can’t do much.’

Wood was assigned to care for Pinkard during his stay at the hospital, and described feeling ‘very frustrated’ when she found out he couldn’t be treated. Feeling her patient’s situation ‘gnawing’ at her, the nurse knew she had to do something about it.

nurse adopts patient who can't have heart transplantPiedmont Healthcare/Facebook

She said that, as a nurse, she’s always wanting to ‘fix and help’ people, so when she can’t – for whatever reason – it’s difficult to deal with.

Lori continued:

Tests were having to be done and they’re not wanting to do certain tests because, again, there’s no family support. And so I think at some point, you know, God places people in situations in your life and you have a choice to do something about it.

I guess for me, with this situation, there was no choice. 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.

So that’s exactly what happened. The single mother asked Jonathan if she could become his legal guardian, and the grateful patient accepted. He had his heart transplant in August, eight months after he was first admitted to hospital.

nurse adopts patient for heart transplantPiedmont Healthcare/Facebook

Describing the whole thing as a ‘no-brainer,’ Lori told TODAY Health she had to help Jonathan because ‘he would have died without the transplant.’

The two haven’t looked back since, having bonded quickly over football and Family Feud as soon as Pinkard moved into the nurse’s home. The 27-year-old now calls Lori ‘mama,’ with the nurse monitoring his medication and taking him to doctors appointments. ‘He is very loving,’ she said.

Lori is also helping her adopted son to improve his credit score while teaching him the life skills he needs to live independently, with Jonathan saying she treats him ‘like one of her sons’ – something he says he is ‘truly thankful’ for.


What an incredible story, and an even more incredible nurse.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Health, Adoption, Autism, Georgia, Life, Relationships


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    Nurse adopts man with autism so he can have a heart transplant