Celebrity Families

Meet the ‘ICU Grandpa’ who cuddles sick and premature babies when their parents can’t be there

This man has a heart of gold.

By Bettina Tyrrell

David Deutchman is about to become your favourite grandpa. For the past 12 years, the 82-year-old man from Atlanta, Georgia, has visited Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, twice a week, to hold and soothe babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, when their mum or dad can’t.

Dubbed the "ICU Grandpa" by the staff and parents, the kind-hearted man is the superhero every hospital needs.

David Deutchman visits the neonatal intensive care unit twice a week, providing support to both tiny babies and their parents.
David Deutchman visits the neonatal intensive care unit twice a week, providing support to both tiny babies and their parents.

"It is very gratifying, not just because the babies are crying and you help them to stop crying," Deutchman told People.

"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."

"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."

When Deutchman retired from international business marketing 15 years ago, he found himself with a lot of spare time, so he started giving lectures at local universities, reports People. But it wasn’t quite enough for Deutchman, who one day found himself walking into Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to ask if they had any volunteering opportunities.

After helping for a year in the hospital’s paediatric intensive care unit, he was asked to help in the NICU.

"Before you know it, I was holding little babies," he said. "And 12 years have just flown by."

Although ICU Grandpa says he sometimes gets "puked" or "pooped" on, he turns up to the hospital every Tuesday and Thursday to volunteer.
Although ICU Grandpa says he sometimes gets "puked" or "pooped" on, he turns up to the hospital every Tuesday and Thursday to volunteer.

The ICU Grandpa is married and has family of his own – two daughters in their 50s and two grandchildren – but still, he finds time to share his love around. Not only does Deutchman care for newborns, he also lends his shoulder to worried mothers.

"I talk with mothers and sometimes I hold their hand, because holding a mum’s hand is just as important as holding a baby," he says.

Deutchman explained that his visits to the intensive care unit can be challenging, he doesn’t know who he will meet that day or what story he’ll hear. But the sweet soul says that he’ll always do what he can to provide compassion and support to people who need it most.

"If there’s anything I can do to make sure people are taken care of, that’s what I’m going to do," he said.

We wish the ICU Grandpa would deliver us a cuddle right now, because this story is giving us all of the feels.