ICU nurse adopts a man with autism so he can have a life-saving heart transplant
via Thrive and Seek Co. / Twitter

Nurses are truly angels on Earth. The job is emotionally and physically demanding while also requiring a vast knowledge of medicine,

To say that nurses go above and beyond would be an understatement.

An ICU nurse from Georgia recently made the most beautiful gesture to an autistic man that saved his life.


In August 2018, Jonathan Pinkard fell at work and was admitted to to Piedmont Newman Hospital. There, Pinkard learned that he would need a heart transplant or he was going to die.

"Jonathan was very sick, but he wasn't eligible for a transplant because he didn't have a support system," nurse Lori Wood, 57, told Today. "One of the requirements is that you have someone to care for you afterwards."

via WJZ / Twitter

There are so many people on waiting lists for donated organs that patients are evaluated for whether they will be able to take care of themselves after the transplant surgery.

Part of that criteria is the recipient must prove they have someone to help take care of them post-op.

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"They're going to look at things like do you show up for appointments and follow doctors orders?" said Anne Paschke, spokesperson for United Network for Organ Sharing, told Today. "If you get a transplant and don't take your immunosuppressive drugs, you're going to lose it."

Pinkard was in an out of the hospital and had nowhere to go so he was being discharged to a men's shelter and had no one to look after him.

In December 2018, he came under the care of Wood, and after knowing him for just two days, she asked him if she could become his legal guardian so he would be eligible for a heart transplant.

"I had to help him. It was a no-brainer," Wood revealed. "He would have died without the transplant."

Pinkard had a successful heart transplant in August and now takes 34 medications a day. Wood takes him back and forth to doctors visits and makes sure he sticks to his rigorous medication routine.

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Pinkard moved into Wood's house and, although they were not much more than acquaintances, they soon bonded over football and "Family Feud."

"Jonathan has his chair, and I have my chair," Wood said. "We like game shows and high five back and forth if we get an answer right. He is very loving."

Pinkard hopes to return to his job as a clerk next month.

"It's been a joy having Jonathan here with us," Wood said. "I knew this is what I was supposed to do."

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.