Molly Amann is a patient and a volunteer at Maine Medical Center’s Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Molly Amann’s body started going haywire when she was in eighth grade; her involuntary bodily functions stopped working properly.

“Everything my body is supposed to do automatically is messed up. My heart rate, blood pressure, temperature regulation, digestion. I get dizzy a lot,” said Amann, of Scarborough, currently a sophomore at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire.

Amann said it took more than three years to be diagnosed with dysautonomia, and during that time, when it was unclear what she was suffering from, she was mostly bedridden.

“When I was in high school, if I made it out of bed and was able to walk to the mailbox, that was a good day,” said Amann, 19.

Amann first was a patient at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland, but now is also a volunteer. Wanting to give back for the care she received, she has organized a band night at Scarborough High School to raise money for the hospital and helped with a number of other fundraisers, such as bake sales, a radio-a-thon and a golf tournament.

Doctors at the hospital devised a treatment plan that alleviates Amann’s symptoms and has allowed her to live a more “normal” life. She goes to the hospital once a month, usually for two days, and receives an intravenous immunoglobulin infusion, which helps her body regulate its involuntary functions.


“I am now able to be a functioning person. I can go to school full-time, and I joined an Irish dancing club,” Amann said.

Amann said she’s “very grateful” to the staff at the hospital, especially the nurses, who have gotten to know her and treat her like family.

“They’re awesome. They’ve always been there for me and supported me,” Amann said. “They’ve inspired me to become a nurse, and that’s what I’m going to school for.”

Despite Amann’s medical condition, she has found a way to volunteer.

“Considering how much they’ve done for me, I thought it was important to give back,” Amann said.

Colleen Amann said her daughter has always persevered and wanted to volunteer despite her difficult medical condition.

“Volunteering is something she can do, something she can control, and it makes her feel better,” her mother said.

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