A man in the Netherlands decided to turn his amputated leg into a one-of-a-kind lamp, inadvertently sparking a bioethics controversy when the hospital originally refused to return his own severed limb.
Leo Bonten’s right leg was broken in an accident, io9 notes, and the onset of a bacterial infection prompted his doctors to recommend the removal of the lower portion of the leg. Bonten had an odd request, however: he wished to keep the leg, so that it could be made into a lamp.
At first, the hospital balked, claiming that safety and health concerns prevented them from returning Bonten’s own leg to him after the surgery. Eventually, the hospital relented, though they claimed that in order to follow the letter of the law, the leg could only be returned after it was first buried, and then exhumed, according to Neatorama. When Bonten refused the costly process, the hospital in turn refused to perform the amputation until the situation was sorted out.
— neatorama (@neatorama) September 24, 2014
“The hospital didn’t have a leg to stand on,” Bonten quipped.
Pathologist Frank van de Goot preserved the leg, while designer Willem Schaperkotter was able to fashion it into the lamp that Bonten wanted. The leg hangs suspended in a clear glass tube, which forms the center of the lamp. The cylinder is filled with a preservative fluid to ensure Bonten’s leg remains the centerpiece of the lamp for the foreseeable future.
Surprisingly, the saga of Bonten’s leg lamp doesn’t end there. Falling upon financial hardship, Bonten decided to sell his unique leg lamp on eBay. The online auction site, however, pulled his listing, citing their terms of service, which expressly forbids the sale of human remains.
The episode has sparked a bioethical debate in the Netherlands, raising questions about just who owns a body part after it has been removed. Amputation leads to a host of challenges for accident victims, as The Inquisitr has previously noted, yet ownership over their own detached limb is something largely overlooked by Netherlands law.
Ethical clinician Erwin Kompanje pointed out that existing legal statutes only provide guidance on the proper way to handle corpses, but have nothing to say about an amputated leg, according to 24 Oranges.
“Your body is your property, unless you give it away,” Kompanje asserted.
Images of Bonten’s amputated leg, and the lamp fashioned from it, can be viewed at Improbable Research.
[Image via Uproxx]