Parents whose children are being treated at the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) can look to a particularly selfless gentleman for extra care. David Deutchman, who has been nicknamed the “ICU Grandpa” by parents and hospital staff members, has been holding and comforting babies at CHOA for 12 years. On Tuesdays, he visits the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), and on Thursdays, Deutchman is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). A photo of him with a premature baby named Logan Brulette posted to CHOA’s Facebook page on September 27 has gone viral. Now, the big-hearted volunteer is making national headlines.
According to the Facebook post, the photo was taken by Logan’s mom MaryBeth Brulette “as she fought back happy tears.” The baby boy had been in the hospital for six weeks, and his mom would have to return home nightly to be with his big sister. “Every morning, she drives back to Scottish Rite feeling ‘anxious that he’s been missing his mommy,'” the post reads. “On this particular morning, she walked into the PICU to find Logan — a preemie born at just 25 weeks — in the arms of David, who smiled and introduced himself as the ICU Grandpa. This photo captures just one precious moment with a legend of a hospital volunteer who’s been holding patients, and their parents’ hands, for 12 years.”
Since being posted, the photo and accompanying story has, understandably, racked up more than 64K shares, 9.7K comments, and 238K reactions.
Deutchman, who began volunteering after retiring from international business marketing, is a father of two daughters in their fifties and grandfather of a 19- and 21-year-old, according to Amanda Wade, CHOA’s Public Relations Coordinator. And he’s been volunteering selflessly for as long as he has, because it brings him as much joy as he hopes he’s bringing the little ones he’s looking after.
Deutchman explained to Atlanta’s NBC affiliate 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. It’s been wonderful because it gives me something to do that has meaning to it.”
Even though he’s been doing it for so long, Deutchman says he still feels incredibly rewarded by his encounters with all different families. “Every day I drive in here I don’t know what kids I’m going to meet, what parents I’m going to meet, what the issues will be and how I can help. It’s been wonderful for me,” he shared with 11 Alive.
Cheers to that. Good on David Deutchman and like-minded volunteers who bring even the slightest bit of relief and comfort to the parents and children of the ICU. What’s more, according to New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital’s website, “Research has shown that the care that Cuddlers give to babies helps lead to shorter hospital stays, quicker weight gain, and improvement in development.” With hope, Deutchman’s viral story will inspire others to follow his lead.