Jonathan Pinkard desperately needed a heart transplant.
But Pinkard was homeless, and he did not have a support system to help care for him after a transplant — and that disqualified him from the waiting list for a new heart.
“It was a pretty scary situation to be in,” said Pinkard, 27, who had been living in a men’s shelter and working as an office clerk in Warm Springs, Ga. “I had no idea what I was going to do.”
Then in December — four months after he learned he needed a new heart — Pinkard landed in the hospital again, but this time he was assigned to nurse Lori Wood. He was her patient for two days at Piedmont Newnan Hospital when she figured out what was going on and stunned him with a remarkable offer: He could move in with her. She could become his guardian and look after him.
“I couldn’t believe that somebody who had known me only two days would do this,” he said. “It was almost like a dream.”
Wood, 57, who has been a nurse for 35 years, said she had never done anything like this before. She generally doesn’t blur the lines between her personal life and her professional work at the hospital, which is about 40 miles from Atlanta. But something about Pinkard was different. He didn’t have anybody in the world looking out for him — and that was standing between him and a new heart.
“That can be very frustrating if you know a patient needs something, and for whatever reason, they can’t have it,” she said. “It gnaws at you.”
She said her frustration grew when there were medical tests he needed to have but he wasn’t getting them because he wasn’t a candidate for a new heart.
“At some point, God places people in situations in your life, and you have a choice to do something about it,” she said. “For me, there was no choice. I’m a nurse; I had an extra room. It was not something I struggled with. He had to come home with me.”