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Her immune system is so weak that she can’t go to places with large numbers of other people, such as school, church or a mall. She can’t eat raw vegetables or fruits unless they have thick skins because of concerns over germs, and she’ll never be able to swim in a lake because of the bacteria. The Skolases installed ultraviolet lights in their heating ducts to kill mold, mildew and bacteria that might sicken Alannah.

Alannah is aware of her limitations and what she’s been through. “Don’t even ask,” she says when the subject of the medical costs, which have been covered by MaineCare _ Maine’s version of Medicaid _ come up.

She’s talkative and enjoys bantering with her grandparents.

“Grammy, you’re not always right,” she said to end a conversation.

The Skolases, who took Alannah in several years ago but declined to discuss the whereabouts of her parents, have made sacrifices for her through the years. Their hand-crafted-furniture business has suffered, with Debi devoting her time to care for Alannah, and the couple has dipped into retirement savings to make ends meet.

Friends have organized a fundraiser to help raise money to offset the costs.

More than anything, though, the family is thankful for the girl’s second chance at life and to the family that went through the pain of losing a child and before deciding to donate the organs to help Alannah.

“That was a courageous decision,” Debi Skolas said. “I still cry when I think about it.”


Associated Press writer Bridget Murphy in Boston contributed to this report.