Aleksandra was a “beautiful, but sickly little blue baby” when her parents Svjetlana and Spaso Ivanko came to the United States in 1993 as refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Doctors in the former Yugoslavia couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

Soon after their arrival, Aleksandra was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and began treatment. “We barely spoke English, and doctors were talking about big, invasive treatments,” Svjetlana says. “We kept translating words and getting lost in them. It felt like our world was crashing down.”

The Ivankos were referred to a doctor in New York who specialized in PH: Robyn Barst, whom Svjetlana credits with saving Aleksandra’s life. “Aleks was in all the trials and got the best care there for the last 25 years.”

About 10 years ago, the Ivankos learned about the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA), which helped connect them to other PH patients and families.

Now that Aleksandra is married to her husband, John, Svjetlana and Spaso no longer are her primary caregivers. But they continue to support PHA. The Ivankos contribute to PHA through birthday fundraisers, O2breathe walks, and other donations. They know their charitable contributions support critical programs.

“We give back when we can and are always inspired to PHA’s efforts,” Svjetlana says. “It is an honor to donate to an organization that has given our family so much.”

You can support PHA’s critical programs, too. Click here to contribute.