ICU Nurse Adopts Autistic Patient So He Could Get A Heart Transplant

Jonathan Pinkard was dying, and his only chance for survival was a heart transplant. Unfortunately, doctors took the 27-year-old off the donor list because he was unable to care for himself and didn’t have anybody to take care of him after the surgery. Pinkard is autistic and was staying at a men’s shelter at the time. His grandmother passed away in 2012, and his mother was in a rehab facility.

Pinkard’s luck changed in December 2018 when Joy Wood, an ICU nurse at Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Georgia, was assigned to care for him.

“Jonathan was very sick, but he wasn’t eligible for a transplant because he didn’t have a support system,” Wood told TODAY Health. “One of the requirements is that you have someone to care for you afterwards.”

Wood decided that she was going to be Pinkard’s support system, and offered to adopt him as her own son just two days later.

“I had to help him. It was a no-brainer,” Wood said. “He would have died without the transplant.”

Pinkard moved in with Wood, and the two quickly bonded over football and game shows.

A few months later, Pinkard received news that he would be receiving a heart transplant and successfully underwent surgery in August.

Wood monitors his medication and takes him to and from the hospital when he has an appointment. She is also trying to help him become more independent so he can live on his own one day.

Pinkard hopes to start working as an office clerk in December, and eventually find his own place to live. He is thankful that Wood came into his life and helped him when he needed it the most.

“It’s kind of emotional, but at the same time, this has been a life journey for me,” said Pinkard. “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

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