Man Has Amputated Arm Preserved by Taxidermist

An Alberta man came up with a very unusual solution for what to do with his amputated arm—he took it to a local taxidermist and had him prepare the bones for display CBC News reported.

Almost 20 years ago, Mark Holmgren borrowed his brother's motorcycle for a quick joyride. Unfortunately, taking a corner at high speed brought his outing to an unexpected end.

"I was just driving too fast, turned the corner and I wiped out," he told CTV. "I tore the nerves in my shoulder. It was a brachial plexus injury and from that day I could never use it. Couldn't move it, couldn't feel it."

X-Ray of a human arm
X-ray image of a human arm eAlisa / Getty Images

Despite the arm never recovering feeling or motion, Holmgren resisted having it amputated, believing that medical science would one day be able to let him use it again. However, after two decades of waiting, he decided to lose the limb and contacted the University of Alberta Hospital to schedule its removal.

However, Holmgren had grown attached to his right arm over the years, and didn't want it to end up in the hospital's incinerator. So he hatched a plan with a local taxidermist to turn the amputated limb into a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

Holmgren picked up the arm from the hospital about a month after the operation and kept it in a garbage bag in his freezer while he auditioned taxidermists to preserve it.

Finding a shop willing to ply their trade on human flesh was a challenge, but eventually Legends Taxidermy in Drayton Valley consented to clean the flesh from Holmgren's severed arm and sterilize the bones for display.

Legends owners Danielle and David Swift used dermestid beetles to strip the necrotized flesh from the arm, then reassembled the bones into their original configuration and connected them together.

On Facebook, they called it "the oddest project we have ever had but one of the most fulfilling."

#Repost @legendstaxidermy • • • • • The highlight of the year has got to be working on this incredible project we...

Posted by Legends Taxidermy & Skull Cleaning on Saturday, December 28, 2019

Holmgren was able to pick up the finished arm right before Christmas, and brought it to his family holiday dinner, where reactions were varied.

He told CTV "Some of them wanted to touch it, some of them don't want to touch it. It's just mixed feelings when people see it."

He told the station he plans to keep the arm behind his kitchen sink.

It is legal in many countries to take possession of any amputated or otherwise removed body parts after surgery. There is no U.S. federal law restricting the possession of body parts unless they are Native American, but a few states have implemented restrictions on private ownership of human remains.

In 2016, Oklahoma woman Kristi Loyall had her foot and lower leg amputated to treat cancer, KFOR reported. She had the limb skeletonized in a similar fashion to Holmgren's arm and now travels the world with it, documenting its journey on her Instagram page.