Like many recent retirees, David Deutchman found himself with a lot of free time on his hands after leaving his job as a marketing executive in the early 2000s.
David tried doing some guest lectures on international marketing at universities near his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, but found the work less than gratifying. He knew he wanted to make a difference in the world, so he contacted Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and volunteered his time.
Almost immediately David was put to work in the neonatal and pediatric intensive care unit of the hospital. The ICU is where many premature infants spend the first months of their lives until they get big and strong enough to go home. Since many babies are there for long stretches of time, it’s not always possible for their parents to be with them around the clock.
That’s where David, or the “ICU Grandpa,” comes in!
David was recruited as a “baby cuddler,” which means he spends hours holding, singing to, and soothing infants. Since starting his volunteer mission all those years ago, David has held an estimated 1,200 infants in the ICU.
David seems to have a magical touch when it comes to babies. Nurses marveled at the way infants seemed to calm down the moment they landed in his arms. His own calm demeanor seems to pass right into the babies, which is why David’s nickname has changed from the “ICU Grandpa” to “the baby whisperer!”
It’s not just the babies who benefit from David’s loving touch. He spends just as much time soothing their worried parents as he does cuddling the infants.
“A lot of times in the neonatal ICU, I’m either holding a baby, or I’m holding Mom’s hand, which is pretty important because we have a lot of moms who are in a stressful position and they enjoy having somebody who they can talk to,” he told Mass Mutual. “In the pediatric ICU, I actually work more with the parents than with the kids. The parents really need someone to sit down and talk with, and try to distract them from what’s going on.”
Even though he’s clearly a huge blessing to these families, David says he’s the one who benefits the most from his time spent cuddling the babies. He urges other seniors who’ve recently retired to find a way to make a positive impact in the world around them.
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