Nurse Adopts Man With Autism so He Can Get His Heart Transplant

Lori Wood, a nurse at the hospital, became the legal guardian to Jonathan Pickard, who needed someone to take care of him in order to get his transplant.
Lori Wood, a nurse at the hospital, became the legal guardian to Jonathan Pickard, who needed someone to take care of him in order to get his transplant.(Piedmont Healthcare)

Jonathan Pickard, 27, originally wasn't eligible to be on the transplant list because he had no one to take care of him after he received the organ.

A man with autism has the new heart he so desperately needed, all thanks to the nurse who adopted him.

“They really treat me like family. I’m really thankful,” said 27-year-old Jonathan Pickard, of Georgia.

Ever since he was born, Pickard was raised by his grandmother, he explained, according to a press release from Piedmont Newnan Hospital.

After his grandmother died when he was 12 years old, he had no other family to turn to. Recently, he had been living in a men’s shelter, according to Today Health.

“My mother, she was in a rehab facility and she can’t do much,” Pickard said.

But when Pickard found out he would need a heart transplant and he could die without one, his lack of a support system made him ineligible to be on the transplant list.

One of the requirements to be on the list is for the recipient to be responsible enough to take care of their health after transplant since there are so many people waiting for donated organs.

“They’re going to look at things like do you show up for appointments and follow doctors’ orders? If you get a transplant and don’t take your immunosuppressive drugs, you’re going to lose it,” spokesperson Anne Paschke, of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), told Today Health. The organization is in charge of deciding which patients receive donated organs in the United States.

He had been in and out of the hospital for a while when he was put under ICU nurse Lori Wood’s care.

“It just gnaws on you. Tests have to be done but they’re not wanting to do tests because of no family support,” Wood said. “When you’re a nurse and you’re wanting to help and fix people, that can be really frustrating.”

Two days after they first met, Wood, who is a single mother to her son, asked if she could become his legal guardian.

“At some point, God places situations into your life and you have a choice to do something about it,” she said about the decision. “For me, this situation, there was no choice. I had a room, I was a nurse, I could take care of him.”

Pickard moved in soon after and received his heart transplant last August.

In the months since, Wood monitors his medications and takes him to his doctor’s appointments. She is also helping him improve his credit score and learn to live independently as he prepares to go back to his job as an office clerk in December.

“Miss Lori has been awesome. She’s very lovable to me,” he said. “Her son as well.”