In order to receive an organ transplant, patients have to agree to certain lifestyle requirements. But what many people don’t know is that transplant recipients are also required to have a stable support system in place so there’s someone to take care of them after surgery.
With so many people on the waiting list, all the conditions must be right to get lucky enough to receive a new organ.
So when Jonathan Pinkard was in desperate need of a heart transplant back in 2018, it appeared the 27-year-old autistic man would be out of luck. His mother was in rehab and his grandmother – who he had been living with – passed away in 2012. He had no other family to speak of.
It was basically a death sentence for Pinkard.
But in December 2018, he met Lori Wood. Wood is an IU nurse at Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Georgia where Pinkard was a patient.
Pinkard spent 4 months in and out of the hospital for his condition and spent the rest of the time at a men’s shelter since he had nowhere else to go and no family to care for him.
When the two first met, they bonded over little things like their mutual love of Family Feud.
It only took 2 days after meeting and caring for Pinkard for Wood to make an amazing offer – she said she would adopt the autistic man and become his legal guardian so he could secure a place on the transplant list.
Wood’s employer asked about her decision and she replied just like a nurse:
“When you’re a nurse and you’re wanting to fix and help people, that can be very frustrating. 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.”
By August of 2019, Pinkard had received his heart transplant!
Wood – who Pinkard calls “mama” – has been there to monitor his medication and care for him, providing the exact support system he needed. She’s even been tutoring him on various life skills that he’ll need if he’s going to live independently in the future.
Piedmont Health gives out a President’s Award each year to an employee that goes above and beyond for their patients – it’s no surprise that Wood was the 2018-2019 winner of that prize (and likely by a longshot).
Mike Robertson, CEO of Piedmont Healthcare, said in a video (that you can view below) that he was taken aback when he heard about Wood’s gesture.
“Most caregivers have big hearts, but I have not seen any nearly as close to Lori. Besides needing the heart, he needed caregivers, he needed that support,” he said.
Robertson said Wood’s actions made everyone around her want to be a better caregiver.
Wood has set up a GoFundMe campaign for Pinkard which has already raised over $6,000 for his transportation and hospital costs. Pinkard updates it frequently to request help for specific needs as well as give updates on his condition.
According to ABC News, Pinkard lives with the Wood family and is fitting in very nicely.
Be sure to scroll down below to see the hospital’s video about this touching story.
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