Alan Doherty, the Irish teenager who has been coming to New York for the past three years for numerous surgeries to give him the chin he was born without, was told by doctors in New York last week that no more surgeries can take place.
Doherty, 20, is extremely disappointed with the news because he feels his face is not completed to the standard he was promised.
Speaking to the Irish Voice through Facebook from his home in Co. Donegal on Tuesday, Doherty said that although he is “happy with the overall work done in New York” he is “disappointed” with the way his lower lip and right jaw were left.
“Most people’s bottom lip stays up but mine doesn’t and I was hoping that the doctors would be able to fix that and also do something with my jaw, but they can’t,” writes Doherty sadly.
Doherty, who just returned from New York with his mother Bernie after spending nearly a month here while recovering from a minor skin revision procedure on July 12, said doctors told him they could do no more.
“The doctors told us they could not do more work in case another operation would trigger off something and I may lose the whole lot,” Doherty said.
Doherty always thought his finished look would include a reconstructed mouth and a proper jaw, so when he was told it wouldn’t he was broken-hearted.
“My family and I did expect better in terms of improving my lower lip and maybe working on the lower right jaw, so I was disappointed by the way nothing else may be able to be carried out,” he said.
Does Doherty regret undergoing the surgeries to complete his face?
“No,” he said. “The overall look is a huge improvement from when I first went for the operations so it’s better, just not perfect.”
Doherty asked the Irish Voice to thank “everyone who has helped me in any way they could, in particular the friends of Alan Doherty charity, especially Paul McBride and the committee members.
“It has been an incredible and very long worthwhile journey.”
Doherty’s surgeries, carried out during seven trans-Atlantic visits to New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, cost over $1.6 million. Last year his family said they were disappointed with the outcome of the operations so they returned last month to see what else could be done.
Doherty was born with a rare maxillofacial disorder called Otofacial Syndrome, which leaves a person with no chin or lower face. He breathes through a tube in his throat and feeds through another in his stomach. He uses a voice-generated computer, which he carries around his neck, to converse with others.
To date Doherty has undergone over 70 hours of surgery. Three years ago, in a groundbreaking procedure lasting 16 hours, a bone that had previously been taken from his hip and grafted on to his back was transplanted into his face.
Doherty has always showed strength and maintained a positive outlook throughout his surgeries.
“I don't mind going through the operation treatment, as I know it's all for my own good. I've benefited and came an awful long way by having these surgeries despite previous healing complications,” he said.
Doherty’s endurance and story has received worldwide media attention. The Donegal man has conducted dozens of interviews during the past three years.