(WGHP) — Every sentence of Amir Alexander’s children’s book is a reminder to recognize the positive even during life’s toughest moments.
The book “Gio’s Heart” was born from a journey initially filled with joy.
Alexander remembers the excitement she and her husband felt when they learned they were expecting twin boys.
“It was shock, surprise, happiness, joy, two for one, so we were happy,” she said.
However, the parents would soon learn challenges were ahead.
“Somewhere in the second trimester, they were doing an ultrasound, and there were a few pauses with twin B, Gianni, and at that point, I kind of knew something was wrong, but I wasn’t sure what it was,” she said.
They were referred to Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem.
Gianni, affectionately called Gio, was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) – a birth defect that impacts blood flowing through the heart and pumping to the rest of the body.
His parents were hopeful a series of surgeries would manage his condition, yet that too would come with disappointing news.
“When he was being delivered, he didn’t get enough oxygen to his brain during that delivery, which caused some bleeding and some other issues, and that’s pretty much where the turn came,” Alexander said.
Gio fought for eight months and three weeks. He passed away on Mother’s Day 2020.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it, but I’m also appreciative of the lessons that we learned while we were there,” Alexander said.
For Gio and older twin brother Jaden’s second birthday, Alexander was ready to share the lessons of unity, kindness and appreciation learned from Gio’s journey by authoring “Gio’s Heart.”
“We hope that as the public sees stories like “Gio’s Heart,” it will help, first of all, just to build empathy and understanding of what our families go through. Beyond that, we hope that this awareness leads to increased funding of scientific research and educational programs and ultimately can help improve outcomes for the patients that we care for,” Brenner Children’s Hospital cardiologist Dr. Michael Walsh said.
“I know we’re going through something hard, but it can always be worse. Just find the positive and just start being thankful for those things that are positive,” Alexander said.
“Gio’s Heart” can be purchased on Gio-Strong.com or through Amazon.