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Final operation on new chin for Alan Doherty successful

By Brendan McDaid

Doctors in New York said they are extremely pleased with how the final operation to give Ulster teenager Alan Doherty his dream of a new chin has gone.

The major surgery, which took over five hours, was carried out at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on Monday and is the first of its kind ever to be completed in the world.

The operation came just days after Alan bumped into fellow avid Celtic fan and music legend Rod Stewart at a pub in New York at the weekend where they both watched their heroes in action.

Alan, who is set to begin writing a book about his life and his journey when he returns to Ireland, had just entered the haunt of the local Bronx Boys Supporters Club when Mr Stewart arrived and was introduced to the 19-year-old Letterkenny lad.

Alan's friend Paul McBride said: “The local Celtic Supporters' Club in New York had gotten in contact with me earlier and have very much taken Alan under their wing. He wanted to see the Celtic game and went on down to the pub. The people in the bar were well aware of Alan's story and couldn't believe he was sitting there with them. Rod Stewart was also in watching the Celtic game in New York and that's how they met.”

Alan was born with a rare Maxillofacial condition which means he was born without a lower jaw. The final operation involved the sculpturing of Alan's new chin and the fitting of dentures on his lower jaw.

He underwent the most complicated in a series of operations in October, with the pioneering surgery lasting 16 hours. A bone that had previously been taken from his hip and grafted onto his back, was transplanted into his face.

Alan has spent most of the past 15 months in New York and has undergone a gruelling 70 hours of surgery. The $1million price tag has been paid for entirely through a fundraising campaign by the Friends of Alan Doherty charity launched in Letterkenny.

Mr McBride, who has spearheaded the campaign, said: “I have been talking to Alan's mother Bernie and the operation went well. The surgeon Dr Rose is very happy with how it went.

“Alan will now spend a couple of days in hospital before they are expected to release him.”

Mr McBride said the last year has been a whirlwind for Alan, his family and the campaign team.

“Alan has met the Celtic players, gone on the Late, Late Show, been round to all the fundraising events, radio, TV interviews, met the Taoiseach, not to mention all the operations.

“Now it is time the family got a bit of normality back and Alan needs that himself. He has always said he just wants to be normal and for people to start staring at him for the right reasons and that will happen now.”

Speaking ahead of his final operation, Alan said he was looking forward to returning home. “I am due to go home two or three weeks after my operation,” he said. “I look forward to going back to school to meet my friends.”

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