David Deutchman had been helping babies for nearly 15 years after retiring

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A man dubbed ICU Grandpa, who spent the last 14 years cuddling sick babies in the neonatal intensive care units at a hospital, has died of pancreatic cancer.

David Deutchman died just two and a half weeks after he was diagnosed.

His volunteering captured the hearts of thousands when his story went viral in 2017.   

The 86-year-old began volunteering at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta after he retired from a career in marketing.

He would visit babies whose parents couldn't be with them and became so popular that parents would ask for him and he soon earned the nickname 'ICU Grandpa.'

His volunteering went viral in 2017

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Daughter Susan Lily told Today in the USA: "He had a very successful business career, and I've never heard him talk with such appreciation and love for what he was doing any time during his 41 years with the company, like he talked about his involvement with the people at the hospital.

Speaking to 11 Alive  in 2017, David said: "Some of my guy friends, they ask me what I do here. And I say, 'Well, I hold babies. I get puked on, I get peed on', and they say, 'Why would you do that?'.

"Some people just don't understand the kind of reward you would get from holding a baby like this."

He would keep track of the families he encountered and would try to visit them if their children returned to the hospital.  

His daughter Susan added: "None of us expected to get such a dire diagnosis.

"He made it very clear to all his loved ones and even his friends that he feels grateful to have lived a full and rich life."

Parents whose children had spent time with in the hospital took to the comments to praise him for his volunteer work.

He would help children when their parents couldn't be there

One mum said: "He has visited with [my son] Elijah many times over the past six years and would even stop by on our various ICU admits since."

Another added: "David was a bright spot during our almost six-month stay at CHOA.

"He would sit with [my daughter] Victoria during her NICU days, and sing to her when I was going to get food or shower.

"He brought so many treats to the Ronald McDonald House, too. He hand-painted two fish for me, because my husband was working with fish.

He enjoyed volunteering

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"He was always so thoughtful to our family. Thank you so much for being our rock through the most difficult challenge in our lives."

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Ronnie; his daughters, Susan Lilly and Jill Deutchman; and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.