Meet TLC's The Man with No Penis, Andrew Wardle
Wardle's documentary premieres Oct. 5 on TLC
Andrew Wardle was born with bladder exstrophy, an abnormality that caused his bladder to form on the outside of his body, leaving him without a penis. After 40 years of keeping his condition a secret, he is now sharing his story in a new documentary on TLC.
“When I was a kid,it didn’t really bother me,” he tells PEOPLE. “I was good at hiding it. But I knew when I became a teenager it was going to be a big problem.”
Because of his condition, the U.K.-based Wardle had to have surgery when he was only a year old. While his bladder was successfully reinserted into his body, the procedure resulted in significant damage. “I was left with a lot of scarring – and that’s it,” he says. “Nothing there.”
As he grew up, reality took its toll. When he was a teenager he started taking drugs and partying to escape from the lies and embarrassment. “I thought I was going to end up dying from all the drugs,” he says. “I just didn’t even care.”
It wasn’t until he was 33 that Wardle first heard about a surgery that could give him a fully working penis.
“They told me they could build a penis out of my arm,” Wardle says the of the four operations he’ll soon undergo. Doctors will incorporate muscle and skin grafted from his right forearm to create a fully functioning penis.
While he has high hopes for the final result, Wardle knows it’s a slow process.
“I’m taking it one step at a time and not expecting anything,” he says. As far as going public with his long-held secret? “I’m at the age where I really don’t care. Since I hit 40, I don’t care what people think or do.”
And as he prepares to go in for his surgeries, Wardle’s girlfriend of three years Fedra is standing by his side. Although she didn’t know about his body secret when they first started dating, she learned to accept it – and now fully supports Wardle’s journey.
“She’s a really nice girl,” he says. “She’s on board 100 percent.”
The Man With No Penis airs Monday, Oct. 5 on TLC.