One Dutch man’s desperate times called for desperate measures when he built up the courage to sell his own disembodied right leg turned real-life leg lamp à la A Christmas Story on eBay to settle financial debts. Fifty-three-year-old Leo Bonten had a leg amputation earlier this year after slipping into a pool and breaking his right leg two years ago. Prior to his surgery, Bolton had a flash of inspiration: to have his amputated leg made into a floor lamp, instead of sending it to the incinerator.
In order to get the rights to keep his leg, Bonten endured a legal battle at the hospital about who is the rightful owner of his amputated limb, and whether it was even legal for him to keep it. Conventionally, an amputated limb “belongs” to the hospital where it was removed, and the hospital is responsible for its disposal, according to the Mirror UK. If the hospital staff doesn’t dispose of the human tissue, then they are in breach of legislation.
“My leg is my property. People keep their kidney stones in a jar on the mantelpieces. Ashes of deceased people are included in tattoos. I’m going to make a lamp of my leg," Bolton told NCR Reader, a Dutch publication. After Bonten eventually got approval to keep his leg, the amputee designed the real-life leg lamp with the help of forensic pathologist William Schaper Kotter and a lamp maker. The leg was fixed in formaldehyde inside a large cylindrical container and was used as the base of a large LED lamp. The lamp was being built as Bolton recovered from his surgery.
Bonten’s amputation was used as a last resort after the 53-year-old underwent numerous surgeries for his snapped leg and complicated fractures. Leg amputations are performed when the patient has had an accident or their leg may have had a blood clot, infection, or disease, according to MedlinePlus. Unfortunately, he developed a bacterial infection that attacked his knee joint and gnawed away at his bones. Shortly after, Bolton’s leg became a dead, stiff weight that needed to be amputated.
His financial woes post-amputation prompted him to sell, rather than keep the lamp. “I would rather keep him, but I need the money,” Bonten told NCR Reader. Schäperkötter was surprised he was so quick to sell the creative piece right after surgery. “I am surprised. He wanted his leg to be made into a lamp because he could not say goodbye," he told NL Times. "I thought that he would maybe want to sell the lamp in a few years, when he has processed the amputation completely. I did not expect it to happen so soon.”
Don’t start the bidding just yet though, eBay has pulled Bonten’s listing, since it violates a rule against the sale of body parts. eBay’s official policy reads: “We don't allow humans, the human body, or any human body parts or products to be listed on eBay, with two exceptions. Sellers can list items containing human scalp hair, and skulls and skeletons intended for medical use.”
"Soon I won’t even have a home where I can put the lamp,” he told NL Times. For Bonten, selling his leg was a way he could deal with the loss and use the money to buy a bonic leg among other things. The amputee is currently looking for another way to sell his real-life leg lamp.
Watch the video below (in Dutch) to see how the lamp was made.