attended the GIVEN Forum in 2016 and it absolutely changed my life in so many amazing ways. It taught me many valuable skills and helped me to grow in my faith as beloved daughter of God.
My action plan was to help bring awareness to the life and value of those with Down Syndrome. It has evolved over the years and the Holy Spirit has inspired me to found an organization called Hearts of Joy International. We provide heart surgery for children with Down Syndrome in countries where families can’t afford medical care.
50% of children with Down Syndrome are born with a congenital heart defect, a hole in their heart. Surgery is recommended to correct the defect and must be done before the age of 6 months in order to prevent life threatening damage. (National Down Syndrome Society)
In the United States, Down Syndrome can be diagnosed prenatally and when the child is born they immediately receive a heart scan and, if needed, are provided with access to open heart surgery within the first 6 months of their life. Due to lack of resources and education in developing countries, children with Down Syndrome are not given the same opportunities or access to proper medical treatment.
“After visiting Uganda in 2017, I saw this need first hand and felt called to do something to help.”
After visiting Uganda in 2017, I saw this need first hand and felt called to do something to help. Although I have no medical background, I felt God asking me to help this community. Hearts of Joy was born out of the desire to give each child with Down Syndrome a fighting chance at life. We currently serve children in Uganda, India and the Philippines and we partner with doctors and cardiologists across the globe to give these children the best care.
“Hearts of Joy was born out of the desire to give each child with Down Syndrome a fighting chance at life.”
We ask for your prayers for the children, their families, our team, and the doctors. If you feel called to donate, please visit: heartsofjoyinternational.com/donate. Help us make a difference in a child’s life and sponsor a surgery today!
Lauren Costabile, GIVEN ’16
Lauren Costabile is a New Jersey native and advocate for those with disabilities. She has a special passion for raising awareness for and serving those with Down Syndrome. She studied recreational therapy at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, NY and has 12 years of experience working with those with disabilities. She currently works for Array of Hope Ministries as the Social Media/Content Coordinator and as a singer and speaker for live events.