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Going Back: How a former refugee, now an internationally acclaimed surgeon, returned to Iraq to change the lives of injured soldiers and civilians

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In Munjed Al Muderis's bestselling memoir Walking Free, he described his experience as a refugee fleeing Saddam Hussein's Iraq, his terrifying sea journey to Australia and the brutal mandatory detention he faced in the remote north of Western Australia. The book also detailed his early work as a pioneering orthopaedic surgeon at the cutting edge of world medicine. In Going In Munjed Al Muderis's bestselling memoir Walking Free, he described his experience as a refugee fleeing Saddam Hussein's Iraq, his terrifying sea journey to Australia and the brutal mandatory detention he faced in the remote north of Western Australia. The book also detailed his early work as a pioneering orthopaedic surgeon at the cutting edge of world medicine. In Going Back, Munjed shares the extraordinary journey that his life-changing new surgical technique has taken him on. Through osseointegration, he implants titanium rods into the human skeleton and attaches robotic limbs, allowing patients genuine, effective and permanent mobility. Munjed has performed this operation on hundreds of Australian civilians, wounded British soldiers who've lost legs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a survivor of the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand. But nothing has been as extraordinary as his return to Iraq after eighteen years, at the invitation of the Iraqi government, to operate on soldiers, police and civilian amputees wounded in the horrific war against ISIS. These stories are both heartbreaking and full of hope, and are told from the unique perspective of a refugee returning to the place of his birth as a celebrated international surgeon.


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In Munjed Al Muderis's bestselling memoir Walking Free, he described his experience as a refugee fleeing Saddam Hussein's Iraq, his terrifying sea journey to Australia and the brutal mandatory detention he faced in the remote north of Western Australia. The book also detailed his early work as a pioneering orthopaedic surgeon at the cutting edge of world medicine. In Going In Munjed Al Muderis's bestselling memoir Walking Free, he described his experience as a refugee fleeing Saddam Hussein's Iraq, his terrifying sea journey to Australia and the brutal mandatory detention he faced in the remote north of Western Australia. The book also detailed his early work as a pioneering orthopaedic surgeon at the cutting edge of world medicine. In Going Back, Munjed shares the extraordinary journey that his life-changing new surgical technique has taken him on. Through osseointegration, he implants titanium rods into the human skeleton and attaches robotic limbs, allowing patients genuine, effective and permanent mobility. Munjed has performed this operation on hundreds of Australian civilians, wounded British soldiers who've lost legs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a survivor of the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand. But nothing has been as extraordinary as his return to Iraq after eighteen years, at the invitation of the Iraqi government, to operate on soldiers, police and civilian amputees wounded in the horrific war against ISIS. These stories are both heartbreaking and full of hope, and are told from the unique perspective of a refugee returning to the place of his birth as a celebrated international surgeon.

30 review for Going Back: How a former refugee, now an internationally acclaimed surgeon, returned to Iraq to change the lives of injured soldiers and civilians

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kolumbina

    Definitely an impressive, very rich and a well written book (a memoir) by Dr Munjed Al Muderis (now Australian citizen) who arrived to Australia many years ago as a refugee, escaping Sadam Hussein's Iraq. Dr Munjed is now a respected, successful medical doctor (orthopaedic surgeon), one of the pioneers in a sophisticated procedure of osseointegration for people who lost their limbs or parts of their limbs... Munjed visited Iraq many times, he and his team operated on Iraqi soldiers and even on ci Definitely an impressive, very rich and a well written book (a memoir) by Dr Munjed Al Muderis (now Australian citizen) who arrived to Australia many years ago as a refugee, escaping Sadam Hussein's Iraq. Dr Munjed is now a respected, successful medical doctor (orthopaedic surgeon), one of the pioneers in a sophisticated procedure of osseointegration for people who lost their limbs or parts of their limbs... Munjed visited Iraq many times, he and his team operated on Iraqi soldiers and even on civilians. The parts of the book about Iraqi society, religion, Munjed's personal views on Iraqi politics in previous years and now, and all the politics about the war with Iran (1980-1988), current involvement of Iran, USA...I found very interesting. An amazing book by a very special person. Still, would prefer to read about a less perfect person...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Frankie La

    Great story It details the region's politics and cultures from the viewpoint of a professional. The stories of his surgeries and overseas visits are probably the best run down of a trip to the region given not many of us will go to Egypt, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon in the near future. Great story It details the region's politics and cultures from the viewpoint of a professional. The stories of his surgeries and overseas visits are probably the best run down of a trip to the region given not many of us will go to Egypt, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon in the near future.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    This is a succinct, objective, informative and, so often, horrifying memoir of the life of Munjed Al Muderis; osseointegration surgeon and orthopaedic specialist. His account opens immediately with his return to Iraq in 2017; from where he escaped almost two decades previously! Munjed’s heritage was influenced by his father, head of the Supreme Court at that time. Munjed describes his father as, “an intellectual scholar who considered the world and its ways through a prism of knowledge, law and c This is a succinct, objective, informative and, so often, horrifying memoir of the life of Munjed Al Muderis; osseointegration surgeon and orthopaedic specialist. His account opens immediately with his return to Iraq in 2017; from where he escaped almost two decades previously! Munjed’s heritage was influenced by his father, head of the Supreme Court at that time. Munjed describes his father as, “an intellectual scholar who considered the world and its ways through a prism of knowledge, law and common rather than religion or tribal traditions”. His father’s positive parenting accounts so much for Munjed’s present values and attitudes. Eloquent but uncomplicated prose guides the reader right through his narrative. When Munjed was 27 years old and working as a doctor in the Saddam Hussein Medical Centre Republican Guards invaded this precinct, with a bus load of deserters. As punishment for these prisoners the doctors were ordered to cut off ears. One doctor objected. He was shot. It was fortunate that Munjed hid and then fled, eventually arriving at the detention centre of Curtin, WA. Perhaps I should qualify and say “incarcerated” leaving a disgusted feeling in the pit of my stomach. Yes, he overcome all this and became a highly skilled and successful surgeon. He specialised in amputees and this eventually took him all over the world. His ground breaking methods (often questioned); of implanting titanium rods into bones and attaching robotic limbs allowing patients to walk without the excruciating problems of other artificial limbs is phenomenal! His travels to the Middle East revealed mayhem, inefficiency, covers-up and lies. Extremely difficult, almost impossible, conditions to work with patients. His journey into Cairo, Egypt, is hair raising. Half way through his memoir we are taken, in February of 2017, back to Baghdad. At this time there was approximately 150,000 amputees in Iraq. Munjed was requested by the government to help those in the military damaged by ISIS; but how and under what medical conditions? Hospitals were below standard, infections rampant and operating theatres inadequate. Civilians also needed help just as much. They came in their hundreds. Word of hope had spread quickly. Crowd control was needed in his first three day visit. Religious beliefs were another issue. Amputees had no assistance in Iraq and, in fact, are shunned Claudia and Michelle are two very courageous women who were continually there to support Munjed, even when Munjed defied the authorities in order to carry out operations on civilians. The clinical and personal accounts of so many courageous patients enrich this heart-warming story. So much defiance, hope and heartbreak in the face of adversity. So many economic challenges and issues with even obtaining essential robotic limbs. It reads as an overwhelming scenario. Yet Munjed is steadfast in his determination to bring mobility that is sustainable to so many. He is so rightfully a celebrated international surgeon and also proud to call Australia home. We, as Australians, are so blessed that refugees like Munjed have qualities that overcome initial obstacles because they can see the benefit of helping the afflicted. Munjed also has a remarkable view of the world with a deep understanding of political, cultural and economic situations. Going Back is a powerful and enriching read, a must for all; young adult, older adults, male and female and all cultural groups. I feel the whole world should read it. Our world would have to be a better place.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Helen Li

    International acclaim surgeon Munjed Al Muderis is the true epitome of inspiration. His unique story sets him apart from many of heroes of our time. As a young practicing surgeron he grown up in the appalling condition under Saddam Husseins war regime. So horrific was the war in Iraq that the doctors were held at gunpoint while in operation to cut off the patient’s ears. After fleeing Iraw Munjed arrived in Australia as an illegal immigrant and was locked up in the brutal detention centre for a International acclaim surgeon Munjed Al Muderis is the true epitome of inspiration. His unique story sets him apart from many of heroes of our time. As a young practicing surgeron he grown up in the appalling condition under Saddam Husseins war regime. So horrific was the war in Iraq that the doctors were held at gunpoint while in operation to cut off the patient’s ears. After fleeing Iraw Munjed arrived in Australia as an illegal immigrant and was locked up in the brutal detention centre for a year before finally been released. He then continued to pursue his dream of becoming a qualified orthopaedic surgeron in 2008 and has since expanded his medical expertise in the area of osseointegration. Osseointeration is when amputated patients are given the opportunity to install robotic limbs allowing them to use their arms and legs again. Many of these patients had lost their arms or legs through horrific circumstances such as the earthquake in Christchurch and soldiers in war torn times. Munjed’s significant career was when he was officially invited to go back to his home town and perform these operations on the disabled and injured soldiers and civilians in Iraq. All of the patient’s stories are heart breaking and emotional, just the simple everyday tasks that we take for granted such as the ability to write, or to walk or to run and even hold your children. These amputees have lost their body parts in tragic circumstances such as a bomb explosion or a been shot during the war. Many people don’t realize that unable to walk or drive a car isn’t just a physical negativity in your life but can also be an emotional impact. Feelings of hopeless and depression are completely normal. Reading Munjed’s extraordinary book about his amazing work in changing people’s life and making their dreams come true is more than an inspirational; to me he is an ultimate hero.

  5. 4 out of 5

    AnnetteW

    I have admired Dr Al Muderis for a long time. He is a true healer who fled Iraq and his home and family rather than go against his morality when asked to cut off the ears of deserting soldiers by Saddam Hussein's henchmen. The senior doctor who had refused was taken to the carpark and executed. Dr Muderis overcame the terrible treatment Australia subjected him to when he came here as a refugee and now, apart from everything else he does, he is also a human rights activist affiliated with Amnesty I have admired Dr Al Muderis for a long time. He is a true healer who fled Iraq and his home and family rather than go against his morality when asked to cut off the ears of deserting soldiers by Saddam Hussein's henchmen. The senior doctor who had refused was taken to the carpark and executed. Dr Muderis overcame the terrible treatment Australia subjected him to when he came here as a refugee and now, apart from everything else he does, he is also a human rights activist affiliated with Amnesty International, the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. This book concentrates largely on his experiences on the several visits he had made, to the date of the book being written, back to Iraq to perform surgery on military and civilian amputee casualties of the fight against ISIS and previous conflicts. His love for people and being able to radically change their lives with his osseointegration technique and other surgeries shines through and I am sure was what helped him overcome the frustrating and dangerous barriers put in his way that often prevented him doing what he went there to do - despite the fact that the Government had actually invited him! He pulls no punches in detailing his various 'encounters' with officialdom! He intends to keep returning to Iraq several times a year to help as many people as he can but when asked if he is an Iraqi returning home, he says proudly, "No, I am an Australian who cares deeply about your country and its people." If you aren't inspired by this man and his story, and the stories of those he has helped, then probably nothing could inspire you!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    This book, as was his first, a very interesting read. I know very little about Iraq and reading this book gives a very accessible outline of the political & religious unrest that has plagued Iraq as a country for so long. What I find most interesting is the comparison Munjed can give explaining the Iraq he remembers with much fondness to the Iraq of today. Munjed’s orthopaedic and humanitarian work is beyond amazing. Not just the financial side that he pays for himself to get his team and equipm This book, as was his first, a very interesting read. I know very little about Iraq and reading this book gives a very accessible outline of the political & religious unrest that has plagued Iraq as a country for so long. What I find most interesting is the comparison Munjed can give explaining the Iraq he remembers with much fondness to the Iraq of today. Munjed’s orthopaedic and humanitarian work is beyond amazing. Not just the financial side that he pays for himself to get his team and equipment to perform his life changing surgeries, but also the continued pressure he engages in to make Iraq accountable for the damage they have caused to their people because of the continued political & religious unrest that it’s citizens have endured. It is just beyond comprehension the quality of life, the political unrest the Iraq people have had to endure. The religious battle that has gone on for so long... I enjoy reading Munjeds observations the most, they just make sense to time, a born and bred Australian that only possesses knowledge of this region as portrayed by the media of today. A very interesting and inspiring read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Butcher's Wife Books

    A customer lent me this interesting read about an Iraqi orthopedic surgeon - his escape from Iraq, experience as a refugee and return to his ‘home’ country to work with amputees and train Iraqi doctors. One of my jobs while at uni was doing admin work for a Czechoslovakian ortho so I found the intricate description of some of his cases intriguing. The explanations of Middle Eastern culture, beliefs and customs were also particularly informative for me. Towards the end of the book there are compl A customer lent me this interesting read about an Iraqi orthopedic surgeon - his escape from Iraq, experience as a refugee and return to his ‘home’ country to work with amputees and train Iraqi doctors. One of my jobs while at uni was doing admin work for a Czechoslovakian ortho so I found the intricate description of some of his cases intriguing. The explanations of Middle Eastern culture, beliefs and customs were also particularly informative for me. Towards the end of the book there are complex political and historical discussions, through which I found it difficult to keep focused (perhaps if I was highlighting or taking notes I would have stayed on task but then it would have been too much like work! And my customer would never lend me another book if I returned it scrawled all over! 😂)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Fay

    I loved this sequel to 'Walking Free' by former refugee, Munjed Al Muderis. Munjed perfected the orthopaedic technique of osseointegration, which involves inserting titanium rods into the body side of an amputation so that a robotic lower limb can be attached. Munjed has now returned a number of times to his birth country of Iraq to operate on amputees from the ongoing war in his homeland. He was frustrated by the obstacles that the government increasingly put in his way - such is volunteering in I loved this sequel to 'Walking Free' by former refugee, Munjed Al Muderis. Munjed perfected the orthopaedic technique of osseointegration, which involves inserting titanium rods into the body side of an amputation so that a robotic lower limb can be attached. Munjed has now returned a number of times to his birth country of Iraq to operate on amputees from the ongoing war in his homeland. He was frustrated by the obstacles that the government increasingly put in his way - such is volunteering in a country with a high level of corruption and scepticism. In the latter part of the book there is an explanation of Iraqi society, religion and culture - helps to round out the understanding. I have heard Munjed speak on Human Rights and admire his drive and desire to give back.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

    Going back- Munjed Al Muderis is a celebrated international surgeon, a pioneer across the globe in orthopedic medicine.  It is hard to believe that this pioneering Australian surgeon was once a refugee, fleeing from Iraq on a rickety boat and subjected to mandatory detention on Christmas Island.  'Going back' is a powerful account of Munjed returning to his country of birth after 18 years, journalling his transformation from a scared 27 year old fleeing for safety, to being invited to perform life Going back- Munjed Al Muderis is a celebrated international surgeon, a pioneer across the globe in orthopedic medicine.  It is hard to believe that this pioneering Australian surgeon was once a refugee, fleeing from Iraq on a rickety boat and subjected to mandatory detention on Christmas Island.  'Going back' is a powerful account of Munjed returning to his country of birth after 18 years, journalling his transformation from a scared 27 year old fleeing for safety, to being invited to perform life changing prosthetic limbs for Iraq's many amputees.  Munjed, takes us with him to Iraq. So vividly written, one can smell and taste the dust of the treacherous terrain, while being inspired by this marvelous man.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    Very interesting follow up to his first book. This one takes the reader into the operating theatres in Iraq as well as giving an insight into the political scene in Iraq. I learned a lot about politics, corruption and general information about Baghdad before and after Saddam’s ‘reign’. It is obvious that he has an extremely large ego which has allowed him to achieve as much as he has but he also shows great compassion and empathy and a desire to educate others in his field. The world and in parti Very interesting follow up to his first book. This one takes the reader into the operating theatres in Iraq as well as giving an insight into the political scene in Iraq. I learned a lot about politics, corruption and general information about Baghdad before and after Saddam’s ‘reign’. It is obvious that he has an extremely large ego which has allowed him to achieve as much as he has but he also shows great compassion and empathy and a desire to educate others in his field. The world and in particular, individuals who have benefited from his knowledge and ability, are fortunate that he was able to flee his homeland, survive the harsh treatment he receive as a refugee in Australia and develop his skills

  11. 5 out of 5

    John

    A somewhat disappointing follow up to his first book Walking Free. It describes his efforts and the hoops he had to jump through to return to his country of birth, Iraq, so as to use his talents as an orthopedic surgeon to repair some of those crippled by war. A forth right speaker who plays no favourites is quite refreshing. What I didn't like was the history of many of the people who he operated on, which came across as filler. I would have preferred more of his personal story. A somewhat disappointing follow up to his first book Walking Free. It describes his efforts and the hoops he had to jump through to return to his country of birth, Iraq, so as to use his talents as an orthopedic surgeon to repair some of those crippled by war. A forth right speaker who plays no favourites is quite refreshing. What I didn't like was the history of many of the people who he operated on, which came across as filler. I would have preferred more of his personal story.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Provides a detailed account of the recent political challenges in Iraq. It is amazing how Al Muderis persists in helping injured individuals and the medical system in the face of structural barriers and personal risk. I admit to skimming some of the very detailed accounts of the various factions and political divisions.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elisha Lamont

    Munjed has done amazing work and it was inspiring to read how many people he has helped. Some of the stories were quite difficult to read but they were very eye opening. Unfortunately I did find this book a bit hard to read, I found the chapters and timeline quite disjointed so the whole book didn’t really flow and I found myself skipping parts of the end as it got a bit dry and confusing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

    Having read his first book, Al Muderis doesn't fail to disappoint again. He is a captivating storyteller and opens you eyes to a world outside the thoughts of many westerners. I would recommend this heartwarming story of his work in Iraq. Having read his first book, Al Muderis doesn't fail to disappoint again. He is a captivating storyteller and opens you eyes to a world outside the thoughts of many westerners. I would recommend this heartwarming story of his work in Iraq.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Donna Brierley

    Well written & interesting book about Munjed’s life, surgical advances & compassion including the patients stories & treatment, along with an insightful history of Iraq & the wars & effects and corruption. This book is a page turner.

  16. 4 out of 5

    jaime garcia salinas

    Excellent book! Loved every bit of it! Having lived and worked in the Middle East it reminded me of the situations I faced!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate Strachan Mitchell

    Brilliantly written. Highly recommend

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lyaine Munro

    Fascinating reading.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Renarta Azzopardi

    Very inspiring true story about a refugee Surgeon with an extraordinary journey. Highly recommended.

  20. 4 out of 5

    James Warfe

    Despite the great work being done, there's probably not enough content for a whole book on the topic unfortunately. Despite the great work being done, there's probably not enough content for a whole book on the topic unfortunately.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I could not finish this book as I found it so boring. Too technical for me re medical terms etc. However, an amazing surgeon and man.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mohammed Jitarayah

    I left Iraq only 3 months ago, there are few details that are new to me. Dr Munjed did a great job for the Iraqis, I hope the Iraqi politicians will do the same one day.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Adel

    The stories of the patients were really interesting but the book seemed quite disjointed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    An amazing man with an amazing story to tell. I did enjoy this book a bit more than the first one for some reason. Super interesting when you've had a personal connection with Dr Al Muderis. The gift he is giving patients without limbs (as well as everyone else he cares for), is just brilliant. An amazing man with an amazing story to tell. I did enjoy this book a bit more than the first one for some reason. Super interesting when you've had a personal connection with Dr Al Muderis. The gift he is giving patients without limbs (as well as everyone else he cares for), is just brilliant.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Phi

    A good read and in some ways very emotional. The experience of being a refugee and then returning to undertake humanitarian work in one's country of origin is an interesting concept and must have been personally challenging. The book treats some issues deftly but doesn't skirt the difficulties of life in Iraq, nor does it make light of the actual concerns of the medical teams as they negotiate between various forces in Iraqi society. The work undertaken by Dr Al Muderis is pace setting and he's A good read and in some ways very emotional. The experience of being a refugee and then returning to undertake humanitarian work in one's country of origin is an interesting concept and must have been personally challenging. The book treats some issues deftly but doesn't skirt the difficulties of life in Iraq, nor does it make light of the actual concerns of the medical teams as they negotiate between various forces in Iraqi society. The work undertaken by Dr Al Muderis is pace setting and he's due a great deal of respect for his skill and humanity. I'm inspired to read the rest of his story. Suspect I have come into this issue without all the background.

  26. 4 out of 5

    tony gold

    Inspirational Seems like you get a good perspective on Iraq. And pride in the humanitarian work this great team is doing.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Barr

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Lee

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

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