Brave Alan back home after facial ops halted
Published 17/08/2010 | 05:00
COURAGEOUS student Alan Doherty, who was born without a chin, has returned home after medics in New York called a halt to their pioneering surgery to give him a new look.
The 20-year-old arrived back in Donegal on Sunday after doctors told him there was nothing more they could do for him following a series of costly operations over the last three years.
The surgery carried out during seven visits to the US cost €1.2m. But last year his family said they were disappointed with the outcome of the operations. Alan's American dream had started in the summer of 2007 amid much fanfare here and in the US but, at the weekend, he slipped anonymously away from New York after a low-key end to his odyssey.
In stark contrast to the high profile start of his surgery, not a single camera was present to record the 20-year-old's departure from the Big Apple.
Since June 2007, Alan has bravely endured painful operations to give him a new lower jaw but the procedures have been plagued with infections which have forced him and his family to extend their stays in New York.
In December 2008, surgeons held a news conference at the Mount Sinai hospital in New York to tell the world's media that the operations on Alan had been a success.
But last year the parents of the Letterkenny man -- who can only speak with the aid of a Light Writer keyboard -- said they were unhappy with the results of the complicated surgery. They were upset that Alan had not been given the new appearance they were expecting and they were also concerned about heavy scarring left on his body as the result of the removal of bones for his chin implant.
During Alan's most recent visit, surgeons carried out a number of skin grafts from his thigh and neck to use on his lips and dental experts tried to solve problems with two prostheses in his mouth.
Alan and his family are to meet with their medical advisors and fundraisers over the coming days before making any comment on the end result of the surgery.
The 'Friends of Alan Doherty' charity worked diligently to raise the money to pay for his operations and the other costs for travel and accommodation.
Thousands of people made donations to the charity fund. Rangers' supporters clubs in the north rallied to Alan's aid, even though he is a fanatical Celtic supporter.