Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Retiree spends his days as the 'ICU Grandpa,' holding preemies and helping parents

Two days a week, David Deutchman goes by a different name: ICU Grandpa.

The retired international marketing executive volunteers at the intensive care unit at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta hospital, holding babies and helping their parents in any way he can. After he retired in 2000, he did some guest lecturing at area universities, but he wanted to do more. He first volunteered in the hospital's school, working with longterm patients, but after he got to know the parents of NICU babies and learned about their struggles, he switched departments.

For babies in the NICU, being cuddled helps them, nurse Elizabeth Mittiga told CNN, because they feel "that comfort, that warmth." She said she believes they "grow faster and put more weight on, and feeding-wise, [it] can help them digest their feeds better." Not every case has the best outcome, but Deutchman said he'd never give up the experience of bonding with these tiny patients. "The good times have been spending six months with a family, and the kid had ups and downs, and the kid came out great," he told CNN. "Now the kid is 4 or 5 years old and is terrific. Those are the stories I love."