Beloved ‘ICU grandpa’ who cuddled babies loses battle with cancer

David Deutchman, the “ICU grandpa” who was known for cuddling newborn babies in an Atlanta hospital, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Saturday. He was 86.

Deutchman spent the last 14 years providing support to babies and their families in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta after retiring from a long career in marketing, his family said.

“Volunteering absolutely enriched his life,” Deutchman’s daughter, Susan Lilly, told TODAY Parents. “The most meaningful part was the actual time he spent with these patients and their families.”

Lilly said her father loved volunteering and even visited the babies if they returned to the hospital just to hold their hand or comfort them.

Deutchman’s health began to decline last fall and he learned he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer on Oct. 28.

Before his death, the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta held a procession outside his home with employees and patients who paid tribute to him.

Lilly said her father always felt motivated to help at the hospital.

“He said, on many on many occasions, ‘I don’t know how much people realize how much more I get out of this than what I put in,’” she told TODAY. “He’d say, ‘You know, I get feedback from families how much they appreciate me, but I appreciate them.’”

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