Brave teen Alan set for face surgery
An Ulster teenager who was born without a lower jaw was today set to undergo a marathon operation to have a bone grafted onto his face.
Alan Doherty (17), the first person born without a lower jaw to undergo replacement surgery, is to have a specially crafted part of his hip bone placed into his face.
He told the North West Telegraph today that he was confident the 16-hour operation - due to start this afternoon - would be a success.
The bone has been growing in his lower back for the past four months after a transplant operation by some of the world's leading facial surgeons.
Alan and his parents, Danny and Bernie, arrived in New York on Saturday and were given an escort by the New York Police Department to the Mount Sinai medical campus in Manhattan.
Alan (17) from Letterkenny, Co Donegal, was born with a rare Maxillofacial disorder. It means he has no lower chin and has to breathe through a tube in his throat.
The teenager, who speaks with the aid of a lightwriter, said today: " The operation may take 16 hours. I am not worried, nervous or afraid about the operation, I am just hoping all goes well.
"Doctor (Elliott) Rose doesn't think I'll be in Mount Sinai Hospital longer than a week. I have been enjoying New York since Saturday."
The medical team hopes that Alan's immune system will have become accustomed to the bone over the summer and allowed blood to flow to it freely.
Dr Rose, who moulded the hip bone into a jaw shape, said that the first part of the operation earlier this year, when the bone was implanted in Alan's ribcage, went very well.
Alan showed the Belfast Telegraph the raised, crescent shaped scar on his back where the jaw bone was placed.
Bill Broderick, executive director of the Physically Challenged Irish and American Youth Team (PCIAYT), a charity that assists physically challenged children, helped organise Alan's trip after meeting him at a team event.
The Donegal teenager told Mr Broderick that he wanted a new face more than anything else, which moved Mr Broderick to start a fundraising campaign.
The family was given an escort by the New York Police Department when they arrived in the US last Saturday.
Former Letterkenny councillor PJ Blake helped arrange it.
Paul McBride, of the Friends of Alan Doherty, explained that the escort was organised by Inspector Paul McCormack, a former native of Donegal. He said: " He (PJ Blake) contacted me and then got in touch with Paul McCormack."
The Alan Doherty Fundraising Account is in the AIB Letterkenny, with account number 15038040 and sort code 937347.