A man named ICU Grandpa, who has cuddled sick babies in a hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit for the past 14 years, has died of pancreatic cancer.
David Deutchman died just two and a half weeks after he was diagnosed.
His volunteer work captured the hearts of thousands when his story went viral in 2017.
The 86-year-old began volunteering at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta after retiring from a career in marketing.
Visiting babies whose parents couldn’t be with them, he became so popular that parents asked for it and he was soon nicknamed the ‘ICU Grandpa’.
Daughter Susan Lily told Today in the US: “He had a very successful business career, and I have never heard him speak with such appreciation and love for what he did during his 41 years with the company, where he talked about his involvement in the people in the hospital.
Speak against 11 Alive in 2017 David said, “Some of my male friends, they ask me what I’m doing here. And I say, ‘Well, I hold babies. I throw up, I get peed,’ and they say, ‘Why should I do that?’.
“Some people just don’t understand what reward you would get for holding such a baby.”
He kept track of the families he encountered and tried to visit them when their children returned to the hospital.
His daughter Susan added: “None of us expected to receive such a nasty diagnosis.
“He has made it very clear to all his loved ones and even his friends that he is grateful for living a full and rich life.”
Parents whose children had spent time in the hospital responded to the comments to commend him for his volunteer work.
A mother said, “He has visited with [my son] Elijah many times in the past six years and since then even visited our various ICUs. “
Another added, “David was a bright spot during our nearly six-month stay at CHOA.
‘He would be there [my daughter] Victoria during her NICU days, and sang to her when I went to get dinner or a shower.
‘He also brought so many goodies to the Ronald McDonald House. He hand painted two fish for me, because my husband worked with fish.
“He has always been so considerate to our family. Thank you so much for being our stone in the most difficult challenge in our lives.”
He is survived by his 58-year-old wife, Ronnie; his daughters, Susan Lilly and Jill Deutchman; and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.