Jonathan Pinkard, a 27-year-old man with autism, desperately needed a heart transplant to save his life. Unfortunately, he was removed from the transplant list after it was discovered that he lacked a support system. But thanks to this nurse, Jonathan got not only a second chance in life but also a family who would take care of him.
Jonathan had been in and out of the hospital since August, and he was often discharged to a men’s shelter because he didn’t have a home. When he got sick, doctors told him that he needed a heart transplant – he could die if he didn’t have one. However, one of the requirements to be eligible for a donated organ is a support system – something that he didn’t have.
After he was born, Jonathan was raised by his grandmother. After she died when he was 12 years old, he had no other family who would take care of him.
“My mother, she was in a rehab facility and she can’t do much,” he said.
Since there are so many people waiting for donated organs, it must be confirmed if recipients are responsible enough to take care of their own health after the transplant.
The organization in charge of deciding which patients receive donated organs in the United States is the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). According to its spokesperson, Anne Paschke: “They’re going to look at things like do you show up for appointments and follow doctors’ orders? If you get a transplant and don’t take your immuno-suppressive drugs, you’re going to lose it.”
Lori Wood, one of the ICU nurses at Piedmont Newnan Hospital, was assigned to take care of Jonathan in December 2018. She learned of his situation and felt that something had to be done.
“It just gnaws on you. Tests have to be done but they’re not wanting to do tests because of no family support,” she said. “When you’re a nurse and you’re wanting to help and fix people, that can be really frustrating.”
Two days after their first meeting, Lori asked Jonathan if she could be his legal guardian.
“At some point, God places situations into your life and you have a choice to do something about it,” the single mother said about her decision. “For me, this situation, there was no choice. I had a room, I was a nurse, I could take care of him.”
After his successful heart transplant in August, Jonathan moved into Lori’s home to start life with his new family. Though she “didn’t know a thing” about Jonathan prior to living with him, the pair quickly bonded over football and Family Feud.
“Jonathan has his chair, and I have my chair. We like game shows and high five back and forth if we get an answer right. He is very loving,” Lori said.
Now, Jonathan calls Lori “Mama”. The latter is the one who monitors his medications and accompanies him to doctor’s appointments. She’s also helping him improve his credit score and is teaching him the life skills he needs to learn so he could live independently. This December, Jonathan is planning to return to work as an office clerk.
With the way things are going, Jonathan had nothing but good things to say about his adopter.
“She treats me like one of her sons,” he told TODAY Health. “I am truly thank for that.”
Because of Lori’s compassionate heart, a life was saved and changed for the better. We could only hope for nothing but a bright future full of joy and love for Jonathan and Lori.
Watch the video below to learn more about this heartwarming adoption story.