When someone in your family passes, there are so many things to think about – the services, the burial, the legal issues, and it goes on and on. Now that we have implants and artificial parts there are more questions. What are you supposed to do? Can these man-made parts be cremated? Can the parts be re-used or recycled?  Well it depends!

Metal Implants

Some implants made of metal are being recycled. In fact, companies like OrthoMetals collect items such as titanium hips, and cobalt-chrome knees and melt them down into ingots to sell. Many products, even cars and planes, use the resulting metal. Other companies such as Implant Recycling sell the materials to the medical industry.

Non Metal Prosthetics

We often throw away or bury implants that are not recycled. And, in Europe and the United States, there are laws against reusing implanted medical devices and prosthetics. However, organizations prepare them for reuse in developing countries. Standing With Hope is one of the organizations that ships prosthetics to Ghana, where the refitted devices go to the people who need them.

It is different for Pacemakers, Internal Cardiac Defibrillators (ICDs), and other electronic devices because they have batteries that can explode during cremation. We can re-use these devices so many who cannot afford new ones can have life saving equipment. There are also organizations such as Pace4Life that collect them and send them to India. Project My Heart Your Heart is another organization that provides people with second-hand devices.

It appears there are choices being developed that allow future use of implants, devices, and prosthetic s. In fact, people can leave directions for their survivors to donate the items to desired groups or individuals. As we make new developments in medical science, new regulations may appear.

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