You’ve probably seen the precious videos of David Deutchman, also known as the ICU Grandpa, holding medically fragile children in Atlanta. Here’s why we love ICU Grandpa so much.
David Deutchman has been affectionally dubbed the “ICU Grandpa” at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He’s been volunteering with children and their parents for over 12 years, and he says that there is no reward that compares to that of holding a baby.
But he doesn’t just hold any babies. He holds sick babies…premature babies, drug-addicted babies, medically fragile babies who just can’t get enough human interaction. Twelve years ago, he had a running injury and was in rehab. He met some mothers through that circumstance and learned that there were children at the hospital who had significant needs — particularly when it came to basic holding and caring.
A retired International businessman, he says that volunteering in the PICU on Tuesdays (pediatric intensive care unit) gives him some meaning in is life. He doesn’t know who he will meet, but all he meets make an impact.
Thursdays, he visits the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and he says that while he spends more time with parents in PICU, in NICU, it’s all about the babies. NICU nurse Elizabeth Mittiga says that he is a calming presence to the babies and nurses, and they all adore him. He is the best baby buddy.
A grandfather to two himself, he says he is loving volunteering and bringing a human touch to the lives he meets, and he’ll do so as long as they’ll have him.
As the mother of a NICU baby who died, I can’t fully express how meaningful his volunteering is, and I hope that he inspires others to reach out in their communities and make life-changing differences. I never got to hold my son, but knowing that there are people like this in the world makes my heart skip a beat for other mothers like me who rely on their kindness in times of trauma.
ICU Grandpa holds babies that belong to everyone, and when the outcome is never guaranteed, particularly in NICU, that’s priceless.
Photo: Children’s Healthcare Atlanta