‘ICU Grandpa’ who sniffed children and wins heart, dies of pancreatic cancer


For nearly 15 years, David Deichman – aka “ICU Grandpa” – tickles children in the neonatal intensive care unit and plays as a volunteer at Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta with sick children. His efforts to help parents and sick children went viral many years ago; People loved hearing about his kindness to others when he needed it most.

Deutchman died at the age of 86 on 14 November, exactly two and a half weeks after suffering stage IV pancreatic cancer. His family cannot believe that he is gone, but they say they know that his legacy will live on for years to come.

“Voluntarily enriched her life completely,” said Ditchman, daughter of 55-year-old Dichman of Telluride, Colorado. “The most meaningful part was the actual time spent with these patients and their families.”

David Deichman.Courtesy Mary Beth Brullet

“He had a very successful business career, and I never heard him talk about such admiration and love with the company over the course of 41 years, like he talked about his involvement with people in the hospital was.”

Dechman began volunteering after retiring from a career in marketing. He found that he had too much free time and wanted to stay busy. One day, he was at a nearby rehab facility when he saw Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and popped in to see if he could volunteer. After some training, his second assignment as “ICU Grandpa” began. While families often sought him out because he was so popular, he felt like he was the one who got the most from his time.

“He said on many occasions, ‘I don’t know that people realize that I realize this more than I put in,'” Lily said. “(He says) ‘You know, I get feedback from families about how much they appreciate me, but I appreciate them.”

Dichman loved holding children or playing with older children, his daughter said. He understood that tired parents and families benefited from knowing that he was there.

“The emotional support he was able to provide primarily for mothers, but many fathers and extended family members, brothers, sisters, grandmothers, grandfathers, (important). He was almost like a pastor member or a social worker Was, “Lily said.” Even the nurses accepted her. “

Voluntarily inspired and inspired.

“It was definitely a new purpose for him and something that enriched his life,” Lily said. He said, “We were very happy to see that effect. Why not share your love with those who could use it at their most vulnerable times? “

Dichman often tracked children and their families for years. If they return to the hospital, he will try to visit them.

“Even if he went back (to the hospital) over the course of a day, he wouldn’t do it voluntarily – especially if they had to do a certain procedure,” Lily said. “He would go in and grab them by holding their hands.”

When Deachman turned 85 in November 2019, his energy began to wane and he considered retiring from the post of volunteer he loved. Then the COVID-19 pandemic began and the volunteer program was halted, allowing natural evacuation. As the months progressed, he became weak before going to his doctor on October 27 to get some answers.

The next day he finds out that he has metastatic pancreatic cancer. Doctors encouraged her to start hospice care.

“None of us expected such a serious diagnosis,” Lily said. “He made it clear to all his loved ones and even to his friends that he is grateful to live a full and prosperous life.”

Before his death, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta arranged a parade to please Deichman and his family.

“We appreciate the support we have received,” Lily said.

Deichman is survived by his wife of 58 years, Ronnie; His daughters, Susan Lilly and Jill Deichman; And his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Lily said that she and her sister were not surprised that their father was so popular among the families at the hospital. He has always been a great listener.

Lily decided to take care of her father and become a volunteer emergency medical technician. She said that she believes that others can also learn from her father’s example.

“Anyone can have a purpose at any stage of their life,” she said. “It was perhaps surprising to him how much he got out of it. Volunteerism and service to others have a deep fruit. “

An earlier version of this story was first published in TODAY.com.


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