Larissa Garcia with Mengchi Steven Yang, DDS.
When Larissa Garcia was born, everything seemed normal. Then, a few days later, she had difficulty breathing. Genetic tests revealed that she had trisomy 13, a chromosomal condition associated with severe intellectual disability and physical abnormalities in many parts of the body. Because of the life-threatening medical problems that present themselves shortly after birth, many trisomy 13 patients don’t survive past infancy, but Larissa is now nine years old and attending school in Mount Olive, NJ.
Finding dental care for someone with Larissa’s condition, however, was a problem until her family discovered the dental clinic at the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry four years ago. “I was crazy,” her mother, Rosemary Wood, recalls. “I was wondering, ‘Where am I going to take her for a dentist?’”
Going to the dentist can be stressful for any of us, but for someone with Larissa’s disability it can be frightening. At Matheny, says Wood, “They’re so caring. Everybody makes her comfortable. Dr. Yang, the dentist, is so patient. If she starts screaming, he says, ‘All right, Larissa, we’ll give you a break.’ He’s a really great guy. It means a lot to me.”
The Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry provides more than 800 New Jersey kids, teens and adults with disabilities the best medical, dental and therapy care possible. Dental services include X-rays, cleanings, fillings, extractions, restorative dentistry, oral surgery and root canals. Services are provided in partnership with the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine.
Unfortunately, insurance covers less than 50% of the cost of care in the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry. Your contributions to Matheny’s #GivingTuesday campaign will make certain that those with the greatest need continue to get the support and services they deserve.
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Says Rosemary Wood: “We just love it at Matheny. Everybody is so compassionate. It makes a difference in kids’ lives because they have gone through so much.”