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Nurse takes in man with autism so he can get a new heart

Nurse takes in man with autism
Nurse takes in man with autism so he can get a heart transplant 02:49

Newnan, Georgia — During her 35 years as a nurse, Lori Wood has been a hero many times over. When Jonathan Pinkard met Lori, he was homeless.

"If I wasn't staying at a shelter, I was staying in my car," he said.

Jonathan has autism. He was raised by his grandma, but she died a few years ago and there was no one else. Then, to add illness to injury, doctors at Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Georgia told Jonathan he had heart failure at the age of 26. It was so bad he actually needed a heart transplant, or else he was told he had six months to live.

Part of the problem is you can't get a new heart — can't even get on the transplant list — if you don't have a home, or some kind of support system to help you post-surgery. Since Jonathan has no family to speak of, his fate was sealed – basically death by loneliness.

"I mean that just doesn't seem right. Doesn't seem fair," Lori said.

Although there was nothing Lori could do as a nurse, she decided there was something she could do as a mom.

Lori Wood and Jonathan Pinkard Lori Wood

"It was just in my heart that there was no other choice other than to bring him home," she said.

After knowing Jonathan for just three days, Lori invited him into her home and became his legal guardian. Jonathan now lives there full-time, along with Lori's son, Austin. Because of her boundless compassion, Jonathan was able to get on the transplant list and in August, he got his new heart.

In a few weeks, he'll be well enough to live on his own again. Although Lori said she has no plans to release him from her care.

"He's going to go down to my family's house for Christmas with us and go to a wedding with me. So, yeah, he's a part of the family," Lori said.

Jonathan said he actually calls Lori "Mama" now.

"She's like a second mama to me. Heaven sent," he said.

Any medical professional can make you healthy, but sometimes only a mom can make you all better.

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