Atlanta’s ‘ICU Grandpa’ battles stage 4 pancreatic cancer

David Deutchman, known as the “ICU Grandpa," has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
David Deutchman, known as the “ICU Grandpa," has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Credit: MaryBeth Brulotte

Credit: MaryBeth Brulotte

An Atlanta man who has comforted countless infants in intensive care is now facing the battle of his life.

David Deutchman, known as the “ICU Grandpa,” has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, according to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Deutchman was featured in a 2018 MassMutual commercial after years of volunteering at Children’s. In the ad, Deutchman was featured holding an infant with the words “Atlanta, GA. Retiree comforts ICU babies when parents can’t be there.”

ExploreAtlanta’s ‘ICU Grandpa’ featured in national insurance campaign

Deutchman began volunteering at CHOA’s Scottish Rite hospital near his Sandy Springs home more than 12 years ago, after retiring from a career in international business marketing. One day, a nurse asked him if he would like to hold a baby. The baby put her head on his shoulder, and he fell in love.

Children’s Healthcare recently organized a drive-by parade outside of Deutchman’s home.

In an Instagram post, Deutchman’s grandchildren were quoted as saying, “We didn’t know everyone passing by, but we felt so connected to them. All the kids he’s cared for and the employees he’s formed friendships with—he loves them like they were his own. And we felt that same love from them today.”

When Deutchman was approached about doing the commercial via email, he thought it might be junk mail. Then he got a call from a man in California and met with a manager from a public relations firm.

Deutchman said the offer came out of left field, especially because he thought the attention he got from becoming an internet celebrity would eventually die down. That initial hullabaloo prompted him to join Facebook, where he started reconnecting and going on luncheon dates with the women he calls “my moms”: the mothers of babies he’s cared for in the past.

The ad also highlighted an Alabama mom who bought her child’s teacher a car; a Mississippi couple who unexpectedly hosted a wedding that was about to be rained out; and a Texas engineering student who created a device for a girl without an arm allowing her to play violin.

Toward the end, there’s a closeup of Deutchman and the baby staring into each other’s eyes.

Originally from New York before living in Boston for a decade, Deutchman has lived in metro Atlanta for more than 45 years.

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