Special Christmas for Kiwi woman with new prosthetic legs thanks to selfless Iraqi refugee surgeon

A grateful New Zealand woman has been given a second chance with new prosthetic legs provided by a surgeon who knows how important second chances are after he fled war-ravaged Iraq to Australia as a refugee.

Seven Sharp reports this Christmas is going to be very special for Penny Gifkins who had struggled with old, less than ideal prosthetic legs after her own legs were amputated six years ago having been ravaged by meningitis.

With no ACC funding for her to have better prosthetics, Ms Gifkins started fundraising to get them herself, Kiwis contributing $40,000.

Dr Munjed Al Muderis fled persecution in Iraq and arrived in Australia, where he retrained, and helped a Kiwi woman get some new legs. Source: Seven Sharp

In Sydney, meanwhile, her surgeon Dr Munjed Al Muderis has been putting aside his own difficulties so others like Ms Gifkins can get a better life.

When she went there to have implant surgery to get the better walking legs, Dr Al Muderis not only put her up in his home, but helped to cover her surgery costs. 

"I always tell my patients 'if you can pay I will charge you. If you can't I am happy to do it for free'," he told Seven Sharp.

Ms Gifkins said she's sure he has contributed many thousands of dollars and that makes her emotional. 

They ordered us to abandon our elective [surgery] list and start taking these army deserters' ears off - Dr Munjed Al Muderis

"I've never come across a professional surgeon with the biggest heart really. He's helped so much and his team."

His kindness is all the more remarkable when you know what he's been through as an Iraqi refugee.

He studied through bombings and air raids, then as a junior doctor in Baghdad was confronted with the unthinkable. 

"I was faced with three busloads of army deserters being escorted by the Replublican Guards. They ordered us to abandon our elective [surgery] list and start taking these army deserters' ears off," he told the programme. 

His head surgeon was shot when he refused and Dr Al Muderis managed to hide for which he faced execxution, he said.

He fled to Jordan with a fake passport, then to Malaysia and Indonesia, joining the desperate on a boat to Christmas Island and eventually his new home in Sydney where he's doing amazing things after retaking his exams.

As a grateful Ms Gifkins put her new legs to the test, Dr Al Muderis just wanted to keep helping her and others.

"I hope that I would leave something to this world people will benefit from," he said.

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