A Georgia nurse who adopted an adult man two days after meeting him so he could receive life-saving health care said it was an easy decision.
Lori Wood, an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Georgia, was assigned to care for 27-year-old Jonathan Pinkard, who has high-functioning autism, in December 2018.
In a video promoted by the hospital, Pinkard said he was rushed to the emergency room last year after collapsing at his place of work one day, shortly after his shift ended.
Pinkard, who lived with his grandmother until her death in 2012 and whose mother is living in a rehab facility, was diagnosed with a heart disorder and informed he would need a transplant.
However, physicians told Pinkard he could not be kept on the transplant list since he had no support system to take care of him after the procedure and make sure he followed a healthy regimen, including taking immunosuppressive drugs so the new organ would not be rejected, Wood explained.
"When you're a nurse and you're wanting to fix and help people, that can be very frustrating, if you know a patient needs something and, for whatever reason, they can't have it or receive it," she recalled.
Two days after meeting Pinkard, Wood, a single mother, decided to pursue legal guardianship over the patient so that he could receive the transplant he so desperately needed to survive.
"At some point, God places people in situations in your life and you have a choice to do something about it," she said. "I guess for me, in this situation, there was no choice. It really wasn't anything I struggled about — it had to happen. He had to come home with me."
Pinkard underwent a successful heart transplant in August 2019 and says he hopes to return work as an office clerk in December, Today Health reports.
Wood told the outlet she has been monitoring his medication and bringing him to and from his doctors appointments while teaching Pinkard the life skills he needs to live independently one day.
Because of her actions, Wood was honored with the 2018-2019 President's Award through Piedmont's Promise 360 employee recognition program, which "awards deserving employees who go above and beyond for patients, visitors or their co-workers."
"Most caregivers have big hearts," said Mike Robertson, CEO of Piedmont’s Newnan. "But I've not seen any nearly as close to Lori."