Nurse ‘adopts’ homeless stranger so he can get a heart transplant

This article was taken from:

By Jacob Geanous

A nurse became a legal guardian for a homeless man with autism so he could get the heart transplant he desperately needed

Lori Wood decided to ‘adopt’ 27-year-old Jonathan Pickard only two days after meeting him so he would be eligible to receive a new heart. Wood, a 57-year-old intensive care nurse at Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Georgia, was assigned to Pinkard in December 2018. She told Today Health: ‘Jonathan was very sick, but he wasn’t eligible for a transplant because he didn’t have a support system. One of the requirements is that you have someone to care for you afterwards.’ Pinkard had been in an out of the hospital since August, but was often discharged to a men’s shelter because he had nowhere to go.

His mother lived in a rehab center and his grandmother, who was his legal guardian, died. Pinkard had been on his own since 2014. Potential transplant candidates are evaluated to make sure they are responsible enough to protect their health after the procedure because there are so many people on waiting lists for organs. One requirement is a support system – including family or carers as well as a place to stay – in place for after the procedure.

Wood, a single mother, decided she had to do something to help Pinkard. So, only two days after meeting her patient, she asked him if she could become his legal guardian. She told The Washington Post: ‘For me, there was no choice. I’m a nurse; I had an extra room. It was not something I struggled with. He had to come home with me.’ Wood helped Pinkard move into her home in Hogansville, Georgia after he was discharged from the hospital. His only possession was his cellphone and the clothes on his back.

She got Pinkard a new bedroom set and told him to make himself at home. Pinkard said: ‘She’s been “Mama” to me since January.’

The pair quickly became close after they bonded over the TV game show ‘Family Feud’ and college football, despite rooting for rival teams. On August 1, 2019, Pinkard underwent a successful seven-hour heart transplant. He has since been recovering and is expected to return to work soon. Wood has been helping Pinkard by driving him to his doctor appointments, making sure he takes the 34 pills he is required to take daily and ensuring he eats healthy.

She legally became Pinkard’s guardian in July, but they both said the ‘adoption’ began the day Wood brought Pinkard home. ‘I’m teaching him how to cook healthy meals, with a goal of him becoming more independent,’ Wood said.

‘Jonathan wants a girlfriend; he wants to get a car. He’s welcome to stay here as long as he wants to, but I also know that he deserves to have his own life. So at some point, when he’s ready, we’re going to try to make that happen,’ she continued. Pinkard said: ‘I feel like I’m one of her sons. All I can say is, “Thank you, Mama Lori. Thank you. I love you.”‘