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'There Was No Choice': Nurse Adopts Autistic Man So He Can Have Life-Saving Heart Transplant

NEWNAN, Ga. (CBS Local) -- An ICU nurse in Georgia recently adopted a 27-year-old man with autism so he could get a life-saving heart transplant.

Jonathan Pinkard fell at work last year and was taken to Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Newnan. He was told he needed a heart transplant, but wasn't eligible to get one.

Then, ICU nurse Lori Wood was assigned to Pinkard in December 2018.

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

Pinkard's grandmother had passed away in 2012 his mother was in rehab.

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

"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 can't have it or receive it," Wood said in a video posted to Piedmont Healthcare's Facebook page.

Just two days after meeting Pinkard, Wood asked if she could be his legal guardian.

"At some point, God places people in situations in your life, and you have the choice to do something about it. And I guess for me with this situation there was no choice," she said. "It really wasn't anything I struggled about. He had to come home with me."

Pinkard had his heart transplant in August. Wood monitors his medications and takes him to doctor appointments. She's also teaching him the skills needs to live independently.

"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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