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Tuesday, 9 November, 1999, 15:11 GMT
Sex surgery broadcast live
Operation
Surgery will be broadcast around the world
By Gulf Correspondent Frank Gardner

A hospital in Dubai is set to carry out up to five operations on babies born with ambiguous genitalia before a live audience of international doctors.

Surgeons at Dubai's Al-Wasl hospital are due to operate this week on five babies born with internal female sex organs but external male genitalia.

An audience of 150 doctors from around the world will witness a live telecast of the surgery.

Between one and two per cent of the world's population is born with ambiguous genitalia.

In the United Arab Emirates, the government delays issuing birth certificates until surgery is performed and the sex of the baby is determined.

Inbreeding blamed

In a part of the world where local citizens are prone to marrying close relatives, there has been speculation that such birth defects are the fault of inbreeding.

The hereditary blood disease thalassaemia has been traced to such practices and is widespread in the UAE.

But according to Doctor Abdul Rahim Mostafawi, the paediatric surgeon at Al-Wasl hospital, this is not the case with ambiguous genitalia.

He said the operations about to be performed were common in the Gulf and he expected the ones at the Al-Wasl hospital to be 100% successful.

The operations are part of an international symposium on genital and other surgery that is bringing together surgeons from Asia, Africa, the US and Europe.

The babies whose operations will be telecast live, are due to be turned into girls.

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