Leo Bonten, a Dutch citizen, must have never thought in his wildest dreams that he would be one day fighting with a hospital to return his amputated leg.
Yes you heard it right, his leg was amputated due to an incurable infection and the medical authorities put up a legal fight before returning to him what was rightfully his. They said it was controversy of the bioethics type. He on the other hand converted his dear limb into a lamp stand and listed it on eBay at a an offer price of €100,000.
Sadly, before he could strike gold, eBay removed the offer as there is a ban on selling human parts on their website. Bonten was 53 years old when his leg had to be removed surgically, due to an infection he contracted in an accident in 2012. In June 2014, the doctors told him that the leg had gone useless and removal was the only option left.
Even at the discussion table, his mind was working overtime in looking for ideas to put his leg to some use after all. He did not want to send it to the incinerator at any cost.
His request opened a box of arguments and legal hassles about who the actual owner of the leg was. He asked publicly, that if people are allowed to display their kidneys, and ashes on the mantel place, so why not a leg. All this medical jargon made no sense to him, it was his leg and he wanted to keep it. Period.
Once he got approval there was no looking back. Soon he got in touch with Frank van de Goot, a pathologist, in order to preserve the leg and with Willem Schaperkotter, a lighting designer to interpret his vision into a never before seen lamp.
In the first step the leg was fixed permanently inside a cylindrical container filled with formaldehyde. The base of the container was also going to be the base of the LED lamp. The leg is the center piece of this lamp and suspends in the liquid inside the container. While Bonten recovered from the major surgery the lamp was being built step by step.
The first time he saw it, it surely invoked mixed emotions and he commented that outside the cylinder it felt very rubbery and heavy. After the let down from eBay he is looking for other e-commerce platforms to sell his leggy lamp stand. With the proceeds he hopes to by a new prosthetic leg for himself.
He also wishes to set up a foundation for other amputees like him, in order to aspire them to continue living and be hopeful. He is really hoping for a patron to buy his lamp and save him from his financial troubles.
To first lose a limb and then to be forced to sell it publicly, needs a lot of courage and determination. We hope Bonten gets a generous patron soon, who can give him hope for the future.
Pictures of how Bonten’s recovered from his loss and the lamp can be seen at Improbable Research.