A man who was branded ICU Grandpa has passed away from pancreatic cancer, after spending 14 years of his life cuddling poorly babies in the neonatal intensive care units at hospitals.
David Deutchman has died from pancreatic cancer, just two weeks after being diagnosed.
The 86-year-old captured the hearts of thousands of people across the world in 2017 after his volunteering act became viral news.
After retiring from a career in marketing, David began volunteering at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He would visit the babies of parents who couldn’t be with them and quickly, he became popular and highly requested. It wasn’t long before he was given the name ‘ICU Grandpa’.
His daughter, Susan Lilly, told Today in the US: “He had a very successful business career, and I’ve never heard him talk with such appreciation and love for what he was doing any time during his 41 years with the company like he talked about his involvement with the people at the hospital.”
In 2017, David told 11 Alive: “Some of my guy friends, they ask me what I do here. And I say, ‘Well, I hold babies. I get puked on, I get peed on’, and they say, ‘Why would you do that?’.
“Some people just don’t understand the kind of reward you would get from holding a baby like this.”
The caring man would try his best to keep track of families that he encountered so that if they ever needed him again he could be there.
His daughter Susan added: “None of us expected to get such a dire diagnosis.
“He made it very clear to all his loved ones and even his friends that he feels grateful to have lived a full and rich life.”
Parents whose children spent time at the hospital and with ICU Grandpa took the time to praise him for his volunteering work.
One mum said: “He has visited with [my son] Elijah many times over the past six years and would even stop by on our various ICU admits since.”
Another added: “David was a bright spot during our almost six-month stay at CHOA.
“He would sit with [my daughter] Victoria during her NICU days, and sing to her when I was going to get food or shower.
“He brought so many treats to the Ronald McDonald House, too. He handpainted two fish for me because my husband was working with fish.
“He was always so thoughtful to our family. Thank you so much for being our rock through the most difficult challenge in our lives.”
David has been survived by his wife of 58 years, Ronnie; and his daughters Susan Lilly and Jill Deutchman; his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Do you have a story for us? If so, email us at [email protected]. All contact will be treated in confidence.