Just three days after asking the community for help, Shirley Harrison is looking forward to getting a new set of dentures.
Unable to eat anything but pureed and liquid food after having all of her teeth removed to combat a serious gum infection, the 70-year-old lost about 60 pounds over the past year.
The Medical Services Plan paid for the extraction but doesn’t cover dentures for individuals not on social assistance. The couple scraped together most of the $2,400 needed, putting the rest on a credit card, and had the dentures made.
The teeth, however, were fitted when Shirley’s gums were still swollen, and they soon became so loose as to be useless.
Shirley and her husband, George, were unable to afford another pair of dentures, and Shirley began losing weight, eventually dropping to 106 pounds. On a recent visit to the hospital, she was told she was starving.
On top of the teeth troubles, Shirley has been unable to work due to an arm injury, putting extra pressure on the couple’s finances.
However, since news of the Harrisons’ plight hit the media, help has been pouring in — including an offer of new dentures from the dentist who made the first set.
“It feels really good to know somebody cares,” George said.
“We were actually a little on the afraid side, and now we know we can make it through this valley that we’re in,” Shirley added.
“I don’t know if I should bring God’s name into it, but I would like to thank God for all the Good Samaritans… Thank you is about all we can say.”
One couple dropped off a box of food that Shirley would be able to eat without teeth. When the Harrisons emptied the box, they found $140 at the bottom.
A number of other people have given cash and gift cards, and four dentists have come forward with offers of help.
The Harrisons are thankful, but wonder how many others have been left in a similar situation.
“They seem to think dentures are cosmetic but to me they are medically necessary,” Shirley said. “You can’t eat without them.”
The senior is looking forward to her new dentures — and her first solid food in more than a year.
“The first thing I’m going to have when I get my new teeth is a sandwich,” she said. “Probably peanut butter and jelly because that will be the fastest I can make.”
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