At 21 weeks pregnant, Ali Barton visited her local emergency department, concerned about her extreme weight gain, swelling, and trouble breathing. She was transferred immediately to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), where doctors diagnosed her with endomyocardial fibrosis, a rare and deadly heart disease they had never seen in pregnancy before.

Over the next few months, Ali received around-the clock monitoring and care in the hospital’s Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center. Following the birth of her son, Ethan, at 31 weeks, Barton underwent successful heart transplant surgery and Ethan spent nearly two months in BWH’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

“BWH gave us every chance at a successful pregnancy,” Barton recalls. “My OB and cardiology teams were phenomenal, and the NICU nurses did a remarkable job caring for Ethan.”

Grateful for these lifesaving experiences, Barton and her family, along with her parents, David and Louise Weinberg, made a generous gift to two initiatives.

The first is the NICU expansion project, which includes private patient rooms with amenities for parents to stay overnight, and the second is research led by Anne Marie Valente, MD, to improve care for heart patients who are—or wish to become—pregnant.

Today, the healthy and playful 3-year-old Ethan eagerly awaits the arrival of his sister, who will be born via surrogate in May. Says Barton, “We feel so blessed, and are forever thankful to the Brigham.”