Never gave a thought to this before, but with the advent of synthetic joints, titanium plates, heart pacemakers, heart valves and other surgical implants, there must be an increasing number of dead bodies with non-human parts.. so what happens to them?
In the case of body burials, quite often these parts remain unretrieved. Such would be the case in artificial hips and other difficult-to-remove surgical implants. I do know that a serious attempt attempt is made to remove cardiac pacemakers from a dead patient in some hospitals.
In the case of cremated bodies, such parts are retrievable among the ashes. In fact, there are companies which recycle metal implants from cremated human bodies. That’s everything from steel pins to titanium hips and cobalt-chrome knees. In the US alone, there are quite a few companies which even use magnets to sort out the metallic parts from the cremated remains.
One such company, Orthometals, has been in the business for 15 years and recycles 250 tons of body parts annually. The company works by collecting the metal implants for nothing, sorting them and then selling them – taking care to see that they are melted down, rather than reused.
Now, with the rising trend in cremation, largely to save space and cost (in the US 40% of bodies are cremated, but the figure is going up), The retrieval of body-parts is also increasing. Another reason given for the increase in cremation is socio-cultural. More and more families feel that, instead of visiting deceased relatives year after year, they would rather scatter the ashes and be left with no obligations after that.
- Ultimate recycling: Artificial joints after cremation (philly.com)
- Recycling Surgical Implants (business-opportunities.biz)