One man's phenomenal tale of escaping a death sentence in Iraq, surviving the Australian Refugee system and becoming a pioneering surgeon at the forefront of Orthopaedic medicine.
Dr Munjed Al Muderis grew up in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's reign. He went to school with Saddam's sons, then started his medical training at Basra University just as the Iran-Iraq War began. One day, as he was working as a trainee surgeon at the Saddam Hussein Medical Centre, he and his colleagues were ordered to remove the tops of the ears of army deserters. He could not bring himself to act in defiance of the medical code of conduct and cause intentional harm, so he had no choice but to flee Baghdad that same day. In Kuala Lumpur he paid people smugglers to get him to Australia, where he was incarcerated in a detention centre and known only as '982'. After nine months of being repeatedly brutalised for standing up for himself and other detainees, Munjed was finally freed.
But he had to start his medical training again, from scratch. Now, 15 years later, Munjed is at the forefront of orthopaedic medicine as he pioneers a new form of prosthesis that, ironically, transforms the lives of soldiers mutilated in the Iraq War.
Walking Free is the extraordinary story of a clever young man, born into one of Iraq's ruling families, who was forced to flee the country of his birth and forge a new and extraordinary life in Australia.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
Munjed Al Muderis has a remarkable story to tell, by anyone’s standards: first as a privileged Iraqi, then as an asylum seeker at Curtin detention centre and now, astonishingly, as one of the world’s pioneering surgeons specialising in osseointegration, a radical new technique for prospethetic limbs.
With the surgical detachment required of a man with a steady hand and a cool head, his story is nevertheless a gripping and emotional one, full of fear, danger and risk.
Eventually, Al Muderis witnesses one of his patients, British soldier Michael Swain, receive an MBE from the Queen at Windsor Castle. While the soldier makes an agonising, faltering journey to receive his medal, it is the surgeon who has walked furthest. Along the way, he makes a calmly reasoned appeal for asylum seekers to be accorded basic human dignity in detention.
About the Author
Dr Munjed Al Muderis was born in Iraq to a wealthy but ageing father. Born and raised in Iraq, he studied medicine but had to flee when Sadaam's reign of terror began. He is now one of only five surgeons in the world performing oseo-integration, a radical new treatment for those who have lost limbs. He lives in Sydney with his wife, children and dog.