When we think of adoption, we typically picture a child finding a home with a loving couple. The adoption of a 27-year-old man by a single mom is far from typical, but that’s exactly what happened when one nurse decided to help a man get surgery.
Lori Wood, a single mom and an ICU nurse at Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Coweta County, Georgia, was assigned a patient who would quickly change her life as she knew it. Jonathan Pinkard, 27, was in desperate need of a heart transplant, but much to the nurse’s dismay, he was ineligible for the transplant list. Knowing he would die without it, Lori decided to take matters into her own hands.
Jonathan, who has autism, had been raised by his grandmother ever since he was born. When she died when he was just 12 years old, however, he had no other family to turn to, according to Inside Edition. As a result, he ended up living in a men’s shelter because he had nowhere else to go. “My mother, she was in a rehab facility and she can’t do much,” Jonathan explained.
Without the necessary support system, Jonathan was ineligible for the transplant list and all hope for his survival was gone. “Because there are so many people on waiting lists for donated organs, before receiving a transplant, patients are evaluated to make sure they are responsible enough to protect their health, including taking anti-rejection medications, if they receive one,” Today Health reported.
“They’re going to look at things like do you show up for appointments and follow doctors’ orders?” explained Anne Paschke, a spokesperson of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), an organization in charge of deciding which patients receive donated organs in the United States. “If you get a transplant and don’t take your immunosuppressive drugs, you’re going to lose it,” she added.
After being in and out of the hospital for a while, Jonathan was eventually put under Lori’s care, and his situation didn’t sit well with the caring nurse. “It just gnaws on you. Tests have to be done but they’re not wanting to do tests because of no family support,” Lori said. “When you’re a nurse and you’re wanting to help and fix people, that can be really frustrating.”
It didn’t take Lori, a single mother with her own son, long to decide to do something about Jonathan’s circumstances. Two days after first meeting Jonathan, the compassionate nurse asked if she could become his legal guardian and later adopted him, according to MSN. “I had to help him. It was a no-brainer,” Lori said. “He would have died without the transplant.”
The President’s Award is the culminating event of Piedmont’s Promise 360 employee recognition program that awards deserving employees who go above and beyond for patients, visitors or their co-workers. Nominees to the President’s Award include one Promise 360 Champion and two Spotlight winners who represent each Piedmont hospital and entity. The 2018-2019 winner is Lorinda (Lori) Wood, staff RN, PACU from Piedmont Newnan Hospital.
Posted by Piedmont Healthcare on Friday, October 4, 2019
Although Lori Wood “didn’t know a thing” about Jonathan Pinkard, she moved him in any way, and the two quickly bonded over football and the show Family Feud. “Jonathan has his chair, and I have my chair,” Lori said. “We like game shows and high five back and forth if we get an answer right. He is very loving.” Jonathan is also pretty fond of Lori, who he calls “Mama.”
“She treats me like one of her sons,” Jonathan said. “I am truly thankful for that,” he added. “She’s very lovable to me,” he said of Lori, adding that she’s been “awesome” to him. “Her son as well,” Jonathan furthered. “They really treat me like family. I’m really thankful.” And, he has every reason to be.
After moving in with Lori, Jonathan received his heart transplant. Lori monitors his medications, which includes 34 pills a day, and shuttles him to his doctor’s appointments. She’s even helping him improve his credit score and teaching him life skills so he can live independently when he’s able to return to work as an office clerk — something he’ll have the opportunity to do since Lori literally saved his life.
“It’s been a joy having Jonathan here with us,” Lori said, admitting she will miss pulling into the driveway and seeing him waving from the front porch when he’s able to move out, but she doesn’t regret a thing. “I knew this is what I was supposed to do,” she added. “At some point, God places situations into your life and you have a choice to do something about it,” she explained. “For me, this situation, there was no choice. I had a room, I was a nurse, I could take care of him.”