This Edmonton man had his arm amputated. Then he kept the bones.
EDMONTON -- Warning: This story contains imagery which some readers may find disturbing.
Mark Holmgren was 17 years old when he borrowed his brother’s motorbike. It was a decision that would alter his life forever.
“I was just driving too fast, turned the corner and I wiped out. 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.”
Holmgren, now 37, carried his dysfunctional arm around for nearly two decades before deciding it was time to do something about it this year.
“At first it was: I’m going to wait, they’ll be able to fix it, they’re coming up with new stuff, give me a robotic arm, stuff like that and I’ve been waiting too long,” he recalled.
“I just decided to remove it. Move on, I guess.”
He contacted doctors at the University of Alberta hospital, who agreed to amputate his right arm in April.
However, Holmgren didn’t want to depart with his arm forever—he wanted to have it preserved.
“First they sent me a paper, I signed it, sent it back to (the doctor). He brought it into the surgery room with me and just showed me all the doctors in there and they were all like,‘Yup, we know.’”
About a month after the surgery, Holmgren got a call from the lab saying his arm was ready to be picked up.
“I carried it out of the hospital in a garbage bag,” said Holmgren. “I actually kept it in my freezer for about a month.”
He admits that shopping around and asking taxidermy businesses to clean a human arm was a bit of a challenge.
“A couple of them told me no, like right away. There was no way that they were going to touch human body parts.”
But after a few weeks of searching, Legends Taxidermy in Drayton Valley agreed to do the job.
“I went and dropped it off, and got it back just before Christmas.”
Holmgren even brought his skeletal arm to Christmas dinner with his family.
“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.”
The Edmontonian plans to show more friends and family his limb before retiring it.
“I’m just going to keep it probably behind the sink in the kitchen. I’m happy I did it. It’s just not for everybody.”