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Our Nurse of the Week is Lori Wood, 57, a nurse at Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Georgia, who became the guardian of a homeless patient so that he could receive a heart transplant. Wood’s patient, Jonathan Pinkard, had been disqualified from the waiting list for a new heart because he didn’t have a support system in place to care for him after the transplant.

Pinkard, who lives with high-functioning autism, had been living in a men’s shelter and working as an office clerk when he learned he needed a new heart. He landed in the hospital again four months later, where he was assigned to nurse Wood. After two days of treating him, Wood figured out the dire situation Pinkard was in and decided she would take him in herself.

Pinkard tells, “I couldn’t believe that somebody who had known me only two days would do this. It was almost like a dream.”

Wood has been a nurse for 35 years, but had never done anything like this before. She reports that she does not typically blue the lines between her personal and professional lives, but something about Pinkard struck her differently. He didn’t have anybody looking out for him, and in Pinkard’s case that was the difference between life and death.

Wood says, “That can be very frustrating if you know a patient needs something, and for whatever reason they can’t have it. It gnaws at you…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.”

After Pinkard was discharged, Wood loaded him into her car and brought him home. He had nothing but a cellphone to his name. Wood bought him a new bedroom set and made him feel at home. Thanks to Wood, Pinkard received his heart transplant in August and is expected to be cleared to return to work soon.

Wood has invited Pinkard to stay with her as long as he needs, but she knows he wants to have his own life at some point. When he’s ready, they both plan to work together to make that happen.

To learn more about Lori Wood, who became the guardian of a homeless patient so that he could receive a heart transplant, visit here.

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