Twelve years ago, David Deutchman also known as “ICU Grandpa” was just coming to the hospital for rehabilitation after a running injury when he met some mothers; then he realized that he wanted to make a connection with parents and children that are being treated at the hospital and has since been volunteering to cradle recovering babies and comforting their parents at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Hospital.
After he retired from his job in international business marketing 15 years ago, he started giving lectures at local universities to keep him busy but he was not satisfied. That’s when he started volunteering; from pediatric intensive care unit, he added the neonatal intensive care unit.
“It is very gratifying, not just because the babies are crying and you help them to stop crying, there are a lot of benefits to that warm connection of being held—when a baby puts their face against your heartbeat, there’s a benefit there. I came to love it, but not just because of the connection with the babies, but the whole atmosphere of the hospital,” David told Life Daily.
He now volunteers every Tuesdays in the PICU to hold babies and on Thursdays, he makes rounds in the NICU. Aside from holding the babies, he comforts the worried parents. He sometimes talks the mothers and sometimes holds their hands.
“There’s a lot of stress for these parents. Having somebody tell them they can go get breakfast and assure them I’ll be there with their baby, it means something to them. It’s important,” David added.
Elizabeth Mittiga, a NICU nurse at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta told ABC News that they treasure David’s calming presence and he was just really special to them; the babies also adore him.
According to ABC News, David has two daughters and grandchildren ages 19 and 21. He has no plans to stop volunteering at the hospital.