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Can I cremate my own leg?

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 03 April 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:774
  1. Simon Marlow, vascular surgery department, Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, Truro
  1. simon.marlow{at}

If I wished to, could I cremate my own leg? The short answer is no.

During my first foundation year post, two patients asked for their amputated leg to be “cremated.” Is this an unreasonable request? I argue not. If you wish to be cremated on death, you may want the ashes from all of your body at your funeral.

Unusually, the patients were both relatively young (28 and 40 years), and the indication for amputation was for chronic pain rather than vascular pathology, secondary to a childhood injury and a congenital abnormality. These young patients had made a long, difficult decision to have their troublesome leg removed rather than suffer with chronic pain and long term opioid use. They would be expected to make a quick and full rehabilitation with the use of an artificial limb. Their youth and prognosis may cause them to stop and think about the disposal of their leg. After such a traumatic decision process, they might want their ashes as a memorial or simply consider how they …

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