Granddad Who Cuddled Intensive Care Babies For 14 Years Dies Aged 86
David Deutchman, better known as the ‘ICU grandpa’, has passed away.
For the last 14 years, David had been voluntarily cuddling sick babies at a neonatal intensive care unit in Atlanta, Georgia.
In a statement this week, David’s daughters said their ‘sweet father’ passed away on Saturday, November 14. His death comes 17 days after he was diagnosed with metastatic stage IV pancreatic cancer.
‘We already miss him terribly and always will,’ the statement said.
David first went viral in 2017, when a video of the former marketing boss cuddling babies on a hospital ward made the rounds online.
Since his retirement, David had been visiting the ICU at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta every Tuesday to cuddle babies whose parents couldn’t be there.
In the video, David says: ‘Some of my guy friends ask me what I do here … they just don’t get it, the kind of reward you can get from holding a baby like this’.
At the time, David told People:
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.
His daughters said ‘volunteering absolutely enriched his life’.
David’s volunteering was put on hold earlier this year due to the pandemic. It was during this time that he received his cancer diagnosis.
‘None of us expected to get such a dire diagnosis,’ one of his daughters, Susan Lily, told Today.
On Facebook, tributes poured in for David. One user shared her experience of David’s kindness, describing him as a ‘bright spot’ during her child’s six-month stay at the hospital.
One mother commented on how he had supported her during a difficult time.
In a recent Instagram post, the children’s hospital said it had organised a procession of cars, carrying both hospital employees and patients, to pass by his house earlier this month in honour of his service.
‘For a grand finale, a children’s transport helicopter circled over his home — an emotional tribute to a man who has dedicated his retirement years to watching over our kids,’ the post said.
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