After a freak accident that resulted in the loss of his right leg, a Toronto man worked with a museum in town to preserve the bones and get closure on the entire incident.
Speaking to Narcity over the phone, Justin Fernandes says he became fixated on the idea of keeping his leg after he was the victim of a tragic motorcycle accident in July 2020.
The more I looked into it, the more I wanted to do it.
Fernandes isn't sure how he found the story of an Edmonton man who kept his arm after having it amputated, but he says it inspired him to do the same.
"The more I looked into it, the more I became fixated on it, the more I wanted it to be my method of closure for my incident," Fernandes says.
But getting a limb back from the hospital was an incredibly complicated affair, and he needed someone to strip it down to the bone and help preserve it.
After getting a quote of $15,000 from one taxidermist, Fernandes found Ben Lovatt and the Prehistoria Natural History Centre.
"I actually got a call from one of my employees, at like 11 at night, being like, 'There's a post on this Facebook group from this guy Justin who wants to get his leg preserved,'" Lovatt recalls. "'Do you think we do something like that for him?' And I'm like, 'Hell yes, message Justin right now."
Lovatt and his team worked with Justin to clear the regulations from the hospital, who needed to know they were releasing the limb to people who could properly take care of it.
It was an incredibly complicated process, they say, and they think it's the first time something like this has happened in Ontario.
So while Lovatt and his team were used to working with bones, this was quite a unique undertaking.
"As we got to know Justin, it was harder to make this an abstract object... this is, 'Oh yeah, Justin is this awesome guy we know and here's a piece of him on the table,'" Lovatt says.
But Lovatt told Fernandes he would take care of all costs associated with preserving the bones — which made Fernandes feel much more comfortable with the process.
"It was really important that I had a good group of people to help me out on this," he says.
So Fernandes can hold the symbol of his closure in his hands — but now what?
"Like a dog chasing cars, you don't really know what you want to do with it once you get it," Fernandes laughs. "I don't know if there's a right spot for a leg in the house."