Many issues arise when dealing with a person's remains after they die, and what to do with artificial devices—such as breast implants or hearing aids—is one of them. If you have chosen to cremate your loved one, here's what you need to know about how these devices are handled to help you decide what to do.
Some Devices Must Be Removed
Most implants and prosthetics can remain on the body because either they will burn completely, or they won't burn, but there is no risk involved with letting them go through the fire. For instance, metal prosthetics will typically remain intact, but they are harmless enough that most crematoriums won't insist on removing them prior to the procedure.
For safety and/or legal reasons, though, some devices must be removed prior to cremation. Pacemakers and certain breast implants must be taken out because they will explode in the fire: pacemakers because of the batteries and breast implants because of the chemicals used to make them.
Thus, it's critical that you let the crematorium know if the decedent had body modifications done and what kind. They will let you know what, if anything, needs to be removed to make the body safe for cremation.
Some Devices Must Be Sent for Disposal
When a medical device or implant can't be burned, it's usually returned to the decedent's family, who can then decide what they want to do with it. Some devices, such as prosthetic limbs, can be donated to charities that refit them for patients in need, and crematoriums can put you in contact with them if that's what you want. Devices that can't be reused can usually be thrown away.
However, certain specialized devices can't be returned to the family because they must be properly disposed of due to the dangerous components they contain. Some radiotherapy devices used to treat certain cancers are in this category because of the radiation they emit, for example.
For most people, this is not a concern. Unfortunately, if your religion or culture has rules about what can be done to the body after death that prohibit the crematorium from removing hazardous medical devices, then your loved one may not be eligible for the procedure.
Crematoriums do their best to accommodate their clients' needs, so it's best to discuss your concerns with a representative. For more information about this topic or help securing cremation services for your loved one, contact a local company.