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Ken Baillie had resigned himself to a life-long
view of the world from the lounge-room armchair
of his two-bedroom unit in Paradise.
“My mindset was that I would never, ever walk
again,” said Ken.
Doctors amputated most of his left leg in 2007
after Ken had battled five years in and out
of hospital with an infection following knee
replacement surgery. He was 59, ran 6km every
day and had spent the past 10 years as state
manager for transport company Linfox.
Excruciating pain followed the amputation which
left him wheelchair-bound for several years. He
was terminated from Linfox due to his medical
condition and mounting medical expenses forced
the sale of the family’s Magill home. His wife
Leonie, a clerical office worker, became his full-
“I lost my house, I lost my job, basically I lost
everything on top of losing my leg,” said Ken.
Several months ago, however, Ken’s ill fortune
finally turned following the completion of a
radical procedure attaching a robotic prosthesis
to a titanium rod inserted in his remaining leg
bone. He was the first South Australian to receive
“The first time I stood up, and I was able to put
one foot in front of the other, I just could not
describe the joy and elation,” he said.
“It’s a feeling that I will never forget – standing up
“Everyday, everyday, I thank the Lord for
bringing me all this way,” said Ken, a Hectorville
“And I have faith that he will not leave me now.”
In March last year, Leonie came across a Sunday
newspaper article on the life-changing surgery
of a British soldier who had lost both his legs
after triggering an insurgent bomb in Afghanistan
in 2009. Sydney doctor Munjed Al Muderis had
helped the man walk again through pioneering
osseointegration surgery. More than 90 patients
have had the procedure by Dr Al Muderis over
the past five years, including three British
Dr Al Muderis fled to Australia in 1999 from Iraq
after refusing to amputate the ears of Iraqi Army
deserters under Saddam Hussein’s orders. He
was 27 and made it to Christmas Island by boat.
He was detained at Curtin for 10 months and
after his release in 2000 he began working as a
surgical registrar in Melbourne.
Ken contacted Dr Al Muderis’ Sydney clinic the
day after reading the newspaper article on the UK
soldier. Within a week Dr Al Muderis arrranged a
consultation date in April.
Despite an empty bank account, the couple went
ahead with the surgery. Dr Al Muderis was their
Ken had two operations, one in June and another
in August. An unscheduled third operation in
October was performed after Ken’s wound failed
to heal, leaving him in Sydney for an extra three
Last month Ken and Leonie reunited with Dr Al
Muderis for a post-operative check-up.
“Ken had been wheelchair bound for many years
and had developed significant phantom limb
pain; he couldn’t wear traditional prosthesis and
even sitting on a chair was excruciating for him,”
Dr Al Muderis told The Southern Cross recently.
“We offered him osteointegration, which allows
a direct skeletal attachment of a prosthetic limb
into the body so it becomes one part.”
But in a cruel twist, Ken was forced to return the
robotic prosthesis generously loaned to him and
he will be wheelchair bound yet again unless
$45,000 can be raised for the prosthesis. This
is in addition to outstanding medical expenses
accumulating to more than $30,000 over the past
Dr Al Muderis said it was “a shame” people
needing the surgery did not have access to
government assistance in purchasing the
prosthesis. “The surgery helped him get his life
back,” he said.
Monsignor Robert Aitken said Ken was a brave
man who had never complained despite his
ongoing illness. “He’s done an awful lot of
suffering, but he has always been resigned to it
being God’s will,” said Mgr Aitken. “I think he is a
very admirable person.”
During Ken’s repeated hospital stays from 2002
to present, Mgr Aitkin would offer him bedside
communion and pastoral support. The pair met
through Ken’s routine attendance of 7am Mass
at Dulwich where Mgr Aitken was parish priest.
They remain in contact today.
“If it wasn’t for Father, and Leonie, I don’t know
how I would have gotten through this because
you would have just sat down and bawled your
eyes out,” said Ken.
Anyone wanting to assist Ken can contact him
on 0419 512 156 for donation details.
Please support Project Compassion and
help empower the world’s poorest people.
or phone 1800 024 413
CA1861-AD-SouthernCross D1.indd 1
18/12/14 1:30 PM
LONG ROAD: In a South Australian first, parishioner Ken Baillie
can walk again following ground-breaking surgery by a Sydney
doctor after years of excruciating pain and immobility following the
amputation of most of his left leg.
Left: Surgeon Dr Munjed Al Muderis and Ken in Sydney last month.
Walking in Paradise
Hectorville parishioner Ken Baillie thought he’d never walk again after a
12-year health battle during which his left leg was amputated up to his
mid-thigh. Rebecca DiGirolamo shares Ken’s courageous story and his
life-changing encounter with an equally inspiring surgeon who fled Iraq to start
his ground-breaking orthopaedic work in Australia. Ken, however, has a new
challenge to face...
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