Canadian man receives his severed leg taxidermied in time for Christmas

‘This was my closure, basically,’ says Justin Fernandes

<p>Justin Fernandes holding the articulated bones of the leg he lost in a motorcycle accident in July 2020</p>

Justin Fernandes holding the articulated bones of the leg he lost in a motorcycle accident in July 2020

A Canadian man received the taxidermied leg he lost in a motorcycle accident months earlier just in time for Christmas.

Justin Fernandes, 24, from Toronto, Canada, had his leg severed when was struck by a motorcycle while he was walking home from work in July.

Although the incident caused a lengthy stay in hospital and months at a rehabilitation centre, Mr Fernandes decided to keep the articulated bones of his lost leg as part of his recovery.

“This was my closure, basically,” Mr Fernandes told CTV News. “This is how I wanted to grieve,” he added.

Preparing the leg was not simple, but after Mr Fernandes joked about having his leg treated on a Facebook page dedicated to taxidermy, the Prehistoria Natural History Centre (PNHC) in Toronto responded to him.

The centre generally works with animal skeletons for display in the museum and for pet memorials, which requires them putting bones back together again, according to the New York Post.

However, after hearing about Mr Fernandes’ story and the severity of his accident, the team at the centre decided to help him get it taxidermied.

“We didn’t know him when the incident happened…. but through the process we’ve gotten to know each other quite well and he’s kind of become an adopted member of our family here at the museum,” PNHC chief Ben Lovatt told CTV.

“Everyone heals in their own way from a tragic incident,” Mr Lovatt continued. “And this incident was a hit and run that left him almost bleeding to death at the side of the road.

“So he was trying to find some way to have closure, some way to kind of feel whole again, and this was a unique way to do so,” he added.

Mr Fernandes had previously been quoted $15,000 (£11,095) by another taxidermy studio to prepare his leg, but Mr Lovatt said the centre would do it for free, calling the figure an “outrageous request.”

The process for Mr Fernandes gaining property of his leg was also not easy, as he had to obtain a special waiver to get it released.

“If you can picture this, I’m just in this hospital, I don’t even have a prosthetic leg at this point, I’m just hopping around, I’m stuck in bed and I’m sending 100 emails and dozens of phone calls all over the place,” he told CTV.

Once the centre managed to convince the hospital that they could handle the job and Mr Fernandes was given permission to take the leg, the 24-year-old had to find a funeral home to transport it to PNHC.

“They pick it up, it’s boxed, it’s wrapped up, it’s got biohazard stickers all over – it looks crazy,” Mr Fernandes said about the delivery.

After Mr Lovatt and his team removed all the soft tissue on the bone and sterilized it, Mr Fernandes was finally able to see the finished product just before Christmas.

“That was the first time I held my entire leg rearticulated — it was unreal,” he said. “I have to remind myself that, ‘Hey, that’s your leg, you walked on that.’ It’s hard,” he told CTV.

Although some members of his family were initially against the idea, Mr Fernandes said that he does not regret making the choice as it has helped him move forward.

“To me, turning that morbid, sad object that people would just dispose of and forget, I wanted to turn it into art basically, and that’s what I see, when I see it, art. I think it’s beautiful,” Mr Fernandes told CTV.

“You grieve however you feel is the right way to grieve. It’s your loss,” he continued, before adding: “Two months ago, I couldn’t even walk. It takes a lot of willpower but it can be done. This isn’t the end. Your life isn’t over.”

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