Surgeons give teenager a new chin

A teenager from Ireland has been given a new "million dollar chin" by surgeons in America.
Alan Doherty, 19, from Donegal, was born with a rare condition called otofacial syndrome, which effectively meant he had no lower half to his face.
His parents were told he was unlikely to survive.
But after a huge fundraising effort by local people, he has become the first person to have a series of operations to create a new jaw and chin.

We are not sure if I will be able to eat or drink, but the main thing I wanted was the chin

Alan Doherty

Alan spent much of his early life in hospital, but coped with not being able to talk or swallow. However, he found it very difficult to deal with people constantly staring at him in the street.
Doctors took a piece of bone from Alan's hip, and carved it into the shape of a jaw.
They implanted the bone into his back to grow nerves and supporting tissue around it.
Then they removed the cultivated bone, and performed the delicate pioneering surgery on his face, adding extra tissue to make his new chin look as realistic as possible.
After nine gruelling operations taking more than a year, the result is not perfect, and the likelihood is that Alan will face more operations in the years to come.
He still cannot talk, and must feed himself through a tube, as the doctors in New York have yet to find a way to help him to swallow.
However, the improvement has been huge, and Alan is delighted with the results.
Speaking through a voice machine, he said: "I feel excellent now that I have finished the surgeries. I am looking forward to seeing relatives and friends again.

If they stare at him now, it's only out of admiration

Paul McBridge
Family friend

"We are not sure if I will be able to eat or drink, but the main thing I wanted was the chin." Family friend and neighbour Paul McBride, who spearheaded the fund-raising in Letterkenny, said: "The most important thing to Alan is that people are not staring at him any more. He hated people staring at him.
"If they stare at him now, it's only out of admiration.
"Like any other teenager, he cares about what he looks like. To him, it's more important than eating or talking."