For parents who have a baby in the NICU, or the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital, it can be a harrowing and emotional experience.
It gets even worse when the emotions include guilt that the parents are unable to spend every waking moment with their delicate babies while they’re still receiving hospital care.
That’s where David Deutchman comes in. The 82 year old volunteer has been coming to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for 12 years where he comforts both children and babies who are spending time in the ICU.
One woman, Mary Beth Brulotte discovered Deutchman when her son Logan was born 3 1/2 months premature and she couldn’t spare the time to visit him in the NICU every single day, as the hospital is located more than two hours from her home, and she has an eight year old she also has to care for.
She shared with Today, “I was heading in [to the hospital] and was filled with anxiety. It was just wiped away when I saw him there holding Logan fast asleep,” she said.
“He introduced himself as the ‘ICU grandpa’ and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this can’t be real. This man is like an angel.’ He said he heard Logan crying and asked the nurse if he could hold him and sing him to sleep.”
Deutchman began volunteering after he found he had too much time on his hands following retirement. Though he was spending several hours a week as a guest lecturer, he still wasn’t filling his days.
Deutchman has two children and two grandchildren of his own, and was inspired to help make a difference at the local children’s hospital.
He saw how much care the children were getting, but realized doctors and nurses often don’t know how to support the parents, which became Deutchman’s new mission.
He spends two days a week at the hospital, one with older children, and one with the babies.