Jaw-less teen gets special surgery

August 25, 2008 3:14:19 PM PDT
An 18-year-old from Ireland has been given a special gift at a New York hospital.Alan Doherty was born without a jaw. But now, the young man will be going back home with a brand new look.

There are only two known cases of otofacial syndrome. Alan is one of them. But more than anything else in the world, Alan just want to be normal.

The whole lower part of his face was missing, his mouth barely there. He dreams of the day when he can walk down the street without drawing the wrong kind of attention.

"I hope to achieve no one staring at me except the women," he said through his computer.

Alan has a precious sense of humor, which has probably helped him though the countless surgeries and the two birthdays and one Christmas he spent in the hospital.

He came to the United States from Ireland for a very ambitious project, to build his face. Mount Sinai surgeons took from his hip to make his jaw, and they borrowed from his back to flesh out his face.

On Monday, he underwent the last stage - the final touches - which included taking from his inner thigh to make his bottom lip.

"This is, to me, the most challenging surgery," Dr. Elliott Rose said. Because we're actually using artistic skills to redefine his face.

For his mother, who has always thought him beautiful, it is her dream that Alan can finally enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

"Just be a normal kid," Bernie Doherty said. "Just go to the movies."

If Alan's final surgery is successful, he hopes to return to Ireland in a few weeks and eventually go on to college, just like other 18-year-olds.

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STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Lucy Yang

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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