This is the moment Andrew Denton was left grimacing after a renowned surgeon slapped the residual limb of an amputee took when he took off his prosthetic leg in front of a live audience.
Doctor Munjed Al Muderis appeared on the 7 Network’s Interview on Tuesday night, to tell his extraordinary story of fleeing Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime in Iraq – to later become Australia’s leading orthopaedic surgeon.
Dr Al Muderis specialises in osseointegration – a technology that drills a rod into bone, before attaching a prosthetic leg with a computer chip that can be controlled by the amputee’s mind.
‘We reorganise the muscles that become useless and then we re-power these muscles and it becomes mind control prosthetic attached by a small opening in the skin to a robotic leg or arm,’ he explained to Denton.
‘So a person (will) think about moving, and they move,’ he said. ‘Osseointegration brings the person as close as they can to (being) able-bodied.’
Andrew Denton winced and gritted his teeth as Dr Al Muderis slapped Mr Williams’ exposed prosthetic leg
Civil Engineer Gareth Williams lost his leg 22 years ago during a battle with cancer, that caused his right leg to be amputated – but has now been living with his new prosthetic limb for five years following surgery with Dr Al Muderis.
With an allen key used to ‘unlock’ his leg, Mr Williams was able to take his prosthetic limb off from below his knee in front of a gasping live audience.
‘He’s legless!’ Ms Foulcher yelled.
‘So that’s the bit of metal that hangs out the end of my leg,’ Mr Williams said proudly, showing off the piece of metal that had been hammered into his tibia.
‘That can bend!’ Dr Al Muderis shouted out, as he slapped the exposed leg, much to the shock of the audience and Denton – who winced and grit his teeth.
‘That hurt him more than it hurt me!’ Mr Williams joked. ‘You wake up from surgery and that’s the first thing he does to you,’ he said.
‘That can bend!’ Dr Al Muderis shouted out, as he slapped Gareth Williams’ exposed leg, much to the shock of the audience and Denton – who winced and grit his teeth
Dr Al Muderis then hummed the Terminator song, as he jovially acted out the hammering motion he used during surgery.
Mr Williams said the prosthetic doesn’t hurt at all: ‘Where it goes through it’s like having your ear pierced or something, it just happens to be attached to a bit of bone behind it.’
He even said the new leg has given him the ability to feel what surface he is walking on: ‘You walk on gravel you can feel the crunch… Because it’s attached to your skeleton.’
Mr Williams said the osseointegration technology performed by Dr Al Muderis is a big step up from the typical carbon-fibre ‘bucket’ style of prosthetic – which he says ‘could not be more uncomfortable’.
Mr Williams used the bucket prosthetic for 15 years, before it became so unbarable he could no longer walk more than a few hundred metres.
Dr Al Muderis said he reorganises the muscles that become useless and then re-power them, which ‘becomes a mind control prosthetic attached by a small opening in the skin to a robotic leg or arm’
‘You sweat, you’re uncomfortable, you chafe, you blister all day everyday,’ he said.
Marian Foulcher, another amputee who appeared on the program, agreed with Mr Williams’ opinions on the bucket.
After getting rammed by a car 11 years ago, she said she felt uncomfortable and her fake leg would often come flying off.
Mr Williams said he heard about osseointegration years ago, but was initially skeptical and discounted it as a solution for a long time, until he met Dr Al Muderis.
Mr Williams discovered the life-changing surgeon after his mother read about him in an issue of Women’s Weekly.
He said that after a quick response from Dr Al Muderis’ via email, it was only a month before the surgery was performed.
Osseointegration gives a patient the ability’So a person (will) think about moving, and they move,’ he said. ‘Osseointegration brings the person as close as they can to (being) able-bodied.’
Osseointegration is defined as ‘the structural linkage made at the contact point where human bone and the surface of a synthetic, often titanium based implant meet,’ and gives the amputee the ability to feel surfaces through their legs
At first, Dr Al Muderis was hesitant to perform the surgery, saying he had never operated on a person’s tibia before.
‘Gareth said to me ‘it is my right to kick a ball with my kids’ and that was the moment where I said ‘okay bugger it, let’s do it’,’ he said.
Dr Al Muderis said the decision to go through with the surgery was hard for him, as tibias had been trialled before overseas and failed drastically.
Despite the risks though, Mr Williams said he was worried he wouldn’t be able to walk for much longer, so wasn’t too nervous about the surgery – which was the first of its kind.
Ms Foulcher said surgeons advised her against the surgery, but said after speaking with Dr Al Muderis other patients at a seminar – she was sold.
Since the life-changing surgery, Mr Williams says walking long distances is no longer a hurdle for him – and walked 112 kilometres from Barrenjoey to Cronulla last year.
‘My meat leg gave up at the end of that, I got really bad tendinitis in my shin, but carbon fibre doesn’t get tired so you just keep going,’ he said.
As a child, Al Muderis was inspired by Arnold Schwarzzneger’s robotic arm in the movie Terminator.
‘I saw it and I thought ‘wow this is really fascinating, I want to make terminators’,’ he said.
Dr Al Muderis came to Australia nearly 20 years ago, when he boarded a boat carrying more than 150 passengers, heading down under.
Doctor Munjed Al Muderis specialises in osseointegration – a technology that drills a rod into bone, before attaching a prosthetic leg with a computer chip that can be controlled by the amputee’s mind
Stripped of his name, and instead identified by a number, Dr Al Muderis was detained in Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia for ten months.
‘We sensed the detention centre management was trying to deprive us of everything, including our names, in an effort to force us to go back to the countries we came from.’
After being charged with inciting a breakout of detainees at the detention centre, Dr Al Muderi was transferred to Broome Jail.
After a lengthy trial, he was cleared of the charges, processed by the government and found himself a legal refugee.
His immediate course of action was to find a job, and within two months of being released from the detention centre was working as a medical practitioner.
After undergoing a gruelling four-year orthopaedic training program, Dr Al Muderi excelled in the field of hip and knee replacement surgery, forming his own thoughts on the next stages of osseointegration.
During his time at Austin Hospital in Melbourne, he fulfilled his dream of becoming an orthopedic robotic limb surgeon, working with state-of-the-art technology to assist those who have lost limbs in combat.
The osseointegration procedure is what has garnered the most attention for Dr Al Muderis, as the pioneering surgery sees bone and muscle grow around the titanium on the bone end, creating an essentially bionic leg.
Doctor Munjed Al Muderis fled the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq – to become Australia’s leading orthopaedic surgeons