Orthodox man suing Chicago hospital over cremated limb

An Orthodox Jewish man is suing a Chicago-area hospital for cremating his amputated leg instead of preserving it for burial as he requested.

Moshe Lefkowitz, 43, had surgery to remove his left leg below the knee in March 2011. He said in a lawsuit filed in Cook County that he made his wishes to preserve the leg known to the medical staff and to a rabbi working as a hospital chaplain.

In religious Jewish tradition, amputated limbs and other removed body tissue should be buried with or near a person in preparation for the resurrection of the dead mentioned in the Jewish Scriptures.

Lefkowitz sued Skokie Hospital and the rabbi last year for more than $100,000 in damages, the Chicago Tribune reported Aug. 17. The lawsuit was dismissed by a Cook County court judge, but reversed by a county appeals court last month. The case has been sent back to the county court for trial, according to the newspaper.

The hospital said that Lefkowitz twice signed consent forms giving the hospital permission to dispose of the leg.

Lefkowitz is legally blind and claims a nurse told him the documents he signed were consent forms for the surgery. — jta