ICU volunteer called "The Baby Whisperer" by hospital
SAN ANTONIO - They call him the "Baby Whisperer." A volunteer who shares his time and compassion with tiny patients at the Children's Hospital of San Antonio's neonatal intensive care unit.
Don Klusmann has been volunteering twice a week for about a year and a half now, It's something he's been doing in different hospitals for almost twenty years.
"I've been working with kids my whole life. God created me to have a heart for kids. And throughout my whole life I've been working with kids from brand new to 17 years old," explained Klusmann.
His compassion takes on extra meaning in the neonatal ICU, where at any given time there are 30 to 40 infants and up to 70 percent of whom are transported from out of San Antonio, meaning many of the parents can't be with the children.
"I come in and I spoil all the kids, and then I hand them back to the nurses," Klusmann said "It's kind of like being a grandparent."
Kids like 6-months-old Lincoln. He's spent his entire life in an ICU. He has intestinal problems and will need a transplant somewhere down the line. But he's a happy little camper in Don's lap.
Lincoln's father Mike Donato, a Bexar County Deputy Sheriff, definitely appreciates having someone like Don to help care when he's not there.
"It's that peace of mind knowing that someone is here. That he's being held and that he's having that interaction with people. It's rough knowing it's not you, but it's good to know that someone is here," says Donato.
And the nurses also understand and appreciate his value.
Director of neonatal ICU nursing Crystal Stricklin explains, "He meets some of their needs that sometimes a bedside nurse can't meet. If she's busy starting an IV or feeding another baby, he can step in and just provide love and a little extra care for our babies."
And all will agree; we need more people like Don Klusmann in this world.