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What does the hospital do with amputated limbs?

Posted by Jack on December 14, 2022
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    If you've ever had surgery, or lost a limb, you may have wondered what happens to the amputated limb. Are they buried or cremated? If so, where do they go? And how do other people handle their body parts after death? Let's take a look at what hospitals and families do with amputated limbs.

    They store them until they are buried or cremated

    The hospital stores your amputated limb until it's buried or cremated, but they can't keep them indefinitely. If you want to keep your limb in a different way, it's important to speak with your doctor about how to make this happen.

    If the hospital keeps the limb, they have to observe the same rules as funeral homes.

    If the hospital keeps the limb, they have to follow all of the same rules as funeral homes. They must keep it in a sanitary manner and be able to identify it.

    They must also keep it for six months after the patient dies and make sure that they have a record of each death so that they can hand over those records when needed (for example, if police come to retrieve a body).

    The hospital has to ensure that the limb is properly disposed of.

    When a patient's limb is amputated, it's not like the hospital can just throw it away—there are important steps to take in order to ensure that the waste is disposed of properly. The doctor or nurse may contact a funeral home, who will then pick up the limb and provide them with instructions on how to proceed with disposal. If you are considering having an amputation done at your hospital (and we hope you never do), make sure you're aware of what this means for your body part after surgery.

    Family members can decide whether to have the limb buried or cremated, or whether to keep it.

    If you're a family member of the person who lost their limb, you can decide what to do with the body part. The hospital will have a standard policy on how they dispose of amputated limbs. However, if you want to bury or cremate them yourself, they will release them to you as long as there is no risk of infection in doing so.

    To keep your loved one's limb at home after cremation or burial:

    • If you want to keep the limb at home as a memento and/or memorial container (for example, in an urn), ask your funeral director how best to do this safely and legally. Your funeral director may be able to recommend an expert embalmer or biohazard disposal service who can advise on this aspect of care.

    The limb's family can decide whether or not they want a service and burial or cremation.

    If the family of the patient is interested, they can also choose to have a service and burial or cremation. Of course, at this point it's important to note that the hospital will not be able to return any bones or tissue that are left over after a limb has been removed.

    • The family can decide whether or not they want a service and burial or cremation.*

    The hospital will store any remaining bone fragments in case you change your mind later. In addition, those who wish for their loved one's body part to be buried may request it from the hospital after death occurs.*

    • You may also choose either option: donating your loved one's limb for science.*

    Families who want to keep limbs can purchase a memorial container and keep them at home.

    If you'd like to keep the limb, your hospital will have a memorial container available for purchase. This box or urn is usually made of wood or metal, and can be decorated with symbols and words that honor the person who lost their appendage.

    The container is meant to hold a small amount of cremated remains—usually about two tablespoons—and can be kept at home as a reminder of someone special who has passed away.

    Some people choose to donate limbs for medical research or education.

    You might be surprised to learn that some people donate their amputated limbs for medical research or education.

    Medical research is important because it helps us find new treatments and cures for diseases.

    Donation can be a good way to help others, but the donation process is very regulated. The donor's family has to agree with the donation, and the hospital has to make sure that the limb is properly disposed of after it leaves their care.

    Hospitals often donate amputated limbs to science, after the family has been given the chance to claim them for burial.

    Once the family has been given the chance to claim amputated limbs for burial, hospitals often donate them to science. This is a good way to donate body parts and help others in need of transplants. The donated limbs are often used by surgeons who have lost their own legs due to disease or injury, enabling them to walk again with use of a prosthetic device.

    Most hospitals that accept donations of human tissue for research have donors sign permission forms before death.

    If you have amputated limbs, you may wonder what to do with them. Here, we'll answer a few common questions about the disposal of amputated limbs and what they're used for in hospitals.

    No matter what you want to happen with your amputated limb, there are options for the disposal of that body part.

    Whether you want a limb buried, cremated, kept by your family, or donated for research, you have options for how your amputated limbs are handled.

    If you choose to donate your amputated limb for medical research:

    • The hospital will remove the limb from the body and put it in storage until it's needed. This can take days or weeks depending on whether there is an immediate need at the time of surgery.
    • The hospital will contact local organizations to find out who might be interested in receiving the donation (such as universities or teaching hospitals).
    • Once they've found an organization willing to accept the donation and have received confirmation from them that they'll receive it within two weeks of being notified that one is available, they'll contact you and let you know what time frame works best with their schedule so that someone can come pick up your amputated limb at no cost to yourself or anyone else involved!


    Whether you want a limb buried, cremated, kept by your family, or donated for research, you have options for how your amputated limbs are handled.


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