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A sex change operation due to be broadcast live on the Web this Thursday is a definite no-no for anyone remotely squeamish. Doctors will take from between four to six hours to remove a penis and construct a vaginal canal for a 49-year-old person born with "ambiguous" sexual organs. A man once known as "William" who has been receiving hormonal treatment for many years will leave a US hospital somewhere on the West Coast as the woman he has always longed to be, said a spokeswoman for Internet Entertainment Group, which is broadcasting the operation. Three cameras in the operating theatre will beam pictures of the operation live onto the Internet. The operation starts at 11.00am EST (4.00pm GMT) and anyone who wants to watch will have to pay $9.95 for the privilege. IEG confirmed it was using some of the subscription costs to subsidise the cost of the operation. "We've had an overwhelming response from medical professionals and those people who also suffer from similar conditions," said Heather Dalton of IEG, who accepted that the event might draw some voyeurs. "But our main concern is to deliver a quality product. This is an educational tool -- that's why the surgeon has agreed to do it," she said. Last year IEG was connected with the much-publicised hoax when two high school kids -- later revealed to be cherryless actors -- were set to lose their virginity live on the Web. According to Dalton, the hoax was uncovered after IEG told the world it was just an elaborate scam. But in a bizarre twist, Dalton said today that Ken Tipton, the man originally behind the hoax and who brought in IEG after the project became too big for him, is suing IEG for loss of earnings. "The whole thing is an absolute joke," said Dalton. And she isn't kidding. ®

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