Twice a week, David Deutchman spends hours caring for the tiniest patients at the Children's Hospital of Atlanta (CHOA). On Tuesdays, Deutchman visits the pediatric care unit to cuddle and rock babies whose parents can’t be with them at the moment. On Thursdays, he does the same thing in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. Over the 12 years that Deutchman has been volunteering, he has cared for thousands of babies — and their parents— at a time when they need him most. And it's earned him the moniker "ICU Grandpa."
Last week, MaryBeth Bruelette made the two-hour journey to visit her son, Logan, who was born at 25 weeks and weighed just 1 pound 15 ounces at birth. When she arrived, she spotted Logan in the arms of Deutchman and a wave of relief washed over her.
"When I saw Grandpa, I of course, started crying. Because it was so precious and he was so cozy in his arms and Grandpa was just as happy as can be, as if it was his own grandchild," Bruelette told her local NBC affiliate. Bruelette snapped a photo of Logan and Deutchman that was shared by CHOA. Not surprisingly, the photo and Deutchman's story have gone viral.
CHOA's post (at top) has received thousands of comments and tens of thousands of shares. Most of the commenters have reached out to thank Deutchman for his kindness and compassion, with many shared personal stories about the times that the ICU Grandpa rocked or cared for their own children.
Many also noted that while Deutchman was there to care for the babies, he also supported the parents by offering them time to shower or get something to eat or even by providing conversation or a shoulder to cry on.
As for Deutchman, he's just glad he can help. He told reporters that his volunteer work with CHOA is the best job he's ever had. He also said that he believes he gets more out of rocking and snuggling the babies than he gives.
"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," Deutchman said.
Rock on ICU Grandpa, rock on.