Lianna Fives heard about Nicole Barattini's plight through a mutual friend—because of a rare blood disorder, Barattini couldn't risk carrying a child because she or the baby would likely die—and made an incredible decision. At dinner together with their husbands in 2015, Fives told the Barattinis she would be a surrogate mother for them, at no cost. "To see their faces, their excitement, I don’t think they believed it themselves," the 37-year-old Fives, a mother of five herself, tells People. "She is an angel. She wanted to do this out of the kindness of her heart," says Barattini, 29. It took two attempts at IVF, but Fives was successfully implanted with embryos created using Barattini's eggs and her husband's sperm, and on Feb. 10 of this year, she gave birth to twins—one boy and one girl.
"Lianna and Shawn saved us," says Barattini's husband Kevin, 35, who met Fives' husband about 20 years ago through volunteer firefighting. The couple thought they might never have children, since the high costs of adoption or hiring a surrogate were beyond their reach. Both couples, who live in New York, went to nearly all of the doctor appointments, and everyone was in the room when Dominic and Luciana were born. The Barattinis chose the Fives as the babies' godparents, and Nicole Barattini—who doesn't have a sister and whose mom was over the age to carry for her, per Redbook—says she considers Fives to be like a sister to her now. The Fives were even honored at a county event over Mother's Day weekend for their good deed, Newsday reported. "I will always have a connection to the twins," says Fives, "but I had no problem with letting them go." (In California, a woman gave birth to her own grandson.)