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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
'Pay to see my online op'
In the long line of people saying they will do wacky stunts on the internet, Paul Morgan's DIY amputation is one of the more morbid plans, writes BBC News Online's Megan Lane.

Health warning: This story may appear to be a hoax. And even if it doesn't, you may find its subject matter gruesome.

Fifteen years ago, Paul Morgan was run over by a boat trailer. It left him partially paralysed, and only able to walk with the aid of leg braces.

Paul's legs
"I wish to run again - I was athletic in high school"
Now, at age 33, the unemployed Mississippi man says he has decided to take drastic action in an attempt to replace his wasted legs with state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs which would let him walk normally again.

Paul says he plans to chop off his lower legs himself - with a DIY guillotine - live on the internet as a pay-per-view event.

Because amputation is not medically necessary, his health insurance refuses to pay for the procedure.

So his stunt will raise money for his new feet, and serve as a protest against the medical insurance industry.

Desperate measures

"I just felt that this, as a protest, would make my point so much more forcefully," he told BBC News Online.

I'm not crazy and this is not a crazy thing - this is an odd thing

Paul Morgan
"I wish for reform in the medical insurance industry, and it's a show of my freedom to choose what happens to my body. And I wish to run again."

The amputation date is tentatively set for Hallowe'en, when Paul hopes about 15,000 people will pay $20 each to watch him drop the blade.

Five people signed up last Friday, the first day the payment form went live.

Paul Morgan's website
A passing remark at a party sparked the plan
Paul's website also includes a photo gallery of his life before the accident, videoed question and answer sessions with Paul and his brother, Jamie, and working drawings of the guillotine. If the whole thing is a hoax, he has certainly put a lot of thought into it.

"The biggest problem I have is that people don't believe I'm going to do it, especially when I'm on the radio," Paul says.

He has already been a guest on Howard Stern's radio show, when he joked with the shock DJ about grisly alternatives to the guillotine.

'I'm not crazy'

Before going through with it, Paul says he plans to have a psychiatric evaluation to prove that he is of sound mind.

Paul Morgan
Paul Morgan: "I can't feel my feet at all"
"I'm not crazy and this is not a crazy thing - this is an odd thing, but it's for a good purpose," he says.

He also seeks to convince potential viewers that the procedure will change his life for the better.

"At the moment, I walk about half normal walking pace," he says.

But with prosthetics, he says, "I'd blend in more normally, I would be able to run once again, shoot a little basketball once again, and just totally adjust my lifestyle."

Experts have warned that Paul's expectations of how prosthetic limbs would work might be over optimistic, but he is not dissuaded.

Paul also runs the risk of post-amputation complications, such as infection and blood loss, so he has enlisted a couple of paramedics to be at his side.

Long arm of the law

And he may head overseas for the stunt should he run the risk of arrest for breaking local laws.

The biggest problem I have is that people don't believe I'm going to do it

Paul Morgan
"In Mississippi, I could be charged under the mayhem laws, which carry a maximum of seven years. But as I haven't done anything yet, there would have to be police waiting outside the door on the day itself."

So why take such drastic measures - and charge people to watch the grisly procedure?

Paul hopes such shock tactics will get the attention of both gore fans and those sympathetic to his protest, who may well donate but shy off actually watching the DIY amputation.

"I'm providing something for their money and I'm going to get some new legs."

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