Alan Doherty, the young Letterkenny man who was born without a lower jaw and chin, has met with a well-known Irish cosmetic surgeon who will assess whether more can be done to address his rare medical condition.
Alan and his parents met recently with Dr. Patrick Treacy, founder of the Ailesbury Clinic in Dublin, who worked with music superstar Michael Jackson when the singer was in Ireland in 2006.
People in Donegal, around the country and farther afield rallied around Alan, now 21, when his story went public in 2007. The Friends of Alan Doherty raised more than 1 million euro for ground-breaking surgery needed to build a jaw and chin for the young man.
Alan underwent three years of complex surgical procedures at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, before being told last year that there was nothing more doctors there could do for him. At the time Alan and his family expressed their gratitude to the many thousands of people who had contributed to make the surgeries possible.
But there was some disappointment at the final result.
“When I look back on photos, I feel my appearance looked far better at the end of 2008,” Alan said last weekend. He said that at that time, both sides of his jaw were evenly aligned and his lower lip was stronger. Since 2009, he said, his jaw has been uneven and his lower lip sags.
When he received the news last year that his treatments in New York were finished, Alan said, “Despite the unexpected long stays and unplanned operations I’m almost pleased with how my face and jaw has came together.”
He told the Democrat last year that the previous three years had been “really challenging, emotional and painful at times.” But Alan said he did not regret the decision to proceed with the surgery.
Alan cannot eat solid foods or speak, but he communicates using a specialised computer that voices the sentences he types. He recently sat his Leaving Certificate examination.
Alan said he and his family were pleased with their meeting with Dr. Treacy.
“The doctor thinks something may be done,” Alan told the Donegal Democrat. He said the Dublin specialist is considering resurfacing or trimming the skin below his lower lip and widening his lips, and referring him to an orthodontist for dental work.
Alan will return for another consultation in two weeks.