The children's book Gio's Heart tells the story of how one heart made the world a better place. We hope that children with congenital heart defects, children of diverse identities, and those who've had an ICU stay can find representation within this book.
Gianni Dominick Young, affectionately known as Gio, was born at 10:47 pm on Friday, August 16th, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina. Given a name with special meaning, Gianni (God is gracious) Dominick (belonging to God) weighed 5 lbs, 11 oz, and was the second born identical twin to arrive in this world after his big brother Jaden.
While still in the womb, Gianni was diagnosed with a rare form of heart disease called HLHS (Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome). It is a condition where the left side of the heart is smaller than normal and does not develop completely. Because of this, we knew the journey ahead would be challenging but not impossible.
Though Gio spent his life in the care of great nurses and physicians in Duke’s Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, his time here on earth was full of life and purpose. Gio enjoyed reading books, listening to music (Jonathan McReynolds was his favorite), visits from relatives, seeing new sights, touching new things, playing with toys and spending time with his big brother Jaden. Gio brought love and joy to the lives of everyone who knew him.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Gio was unable to receive the treatment that he needed. After a long battle with heart disease, Gio transitioned from the arms of his parents into the arms of the Lord on Sunday, May 10, 2020 at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC. He was 8 months and 3 weeks old. The beauty of Gio’s life and the lessons learned by his parents have been illustrated and shared in the book Gio’s Heart.