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09th May 2024

Model issues warning after losing both legs to toxic shock

Ryan Price

The now 36-year-old contracted the deadly disease from a tampon.

A model who lost both her legs after contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) at the age of 24, has issued a warning to people who use tampons.

Lauren Wasser from Los Angeles, California, contracted the life-threatening illness from a tampon, despite changing her sanitary products regularly.

She dispelled the myth that people are only at risk if they leave their tampon in for over eight hours, and said that she changed hers frequently but still suffered at the hands of the condition.

Lauren appeared on The Diary of a CEO podcast with Steven Bartlett earlier this year, where she explained how she was changing her tampon every four hours during one particular cycle in 2012, when she started experiencing fever-like symptoms.

Her concerned mother called a welfare check for her daughter, and a police officer arrived at Lauren’s home shortly after. The officer could clearly see that Lauren was not well, but didn’t think her symptoms were serious enough for her to have to go to hospital.

Hours later, Lauren was found face down in her apartment, minutes from death.

She was rushed to hospital where she suffered two heart attacks and was put into a medically induced coma as her organs began to shut down.

Doctors told Lauren’s parents to prepare for the worst as they gave her a 1% chance of making it through medical treatment.

A doctor who specialised in infectious disease checked to see if Lauren had a tampon in, and soon after their examination, she was diagnosed with TSS.

Incredibly, Lauren survived, but the damage to her limbs from gangrene was irreparable, and doctors needed to amputate her right leg below the knee as well as some toes and a portion of her heel on her left foot.

While her left leg was initially saved, the pain that she suffered through over six years led to her making the difficult decision to have it amputated at the age of 30.

Speaking about her life-changing ordeal, Wasser said: “We’re putting that inside of us at such a delicate time and it creates a perfect storm. It takes one of those toxins to get inside your body and start acting like the flu and shutting down your organs, it’s lethal, it’s dangerous.

“It’s my goal and life mission to make sure that not only is this information out there but women have these conversations amongst each other, create the dialogue and check in with each other because knowledge is key.”

Since the incident, Lauren has made it her duty to inform women everywhere of the danger of high-street sanitary products.

Lauren claimed many tampons on the market are ‘full of bleach dioxin, chlorine’ and the products marked as 100 per cent cotton are ‘still sprayed with pesticides’.

She wants women and people who menstruate to have the right to choose and be fully informed about whatever period products they want to use.

“I’m not here to say what anyone should do but I will say I’ve heard of women getting TSS from (menstrual cups) and everything,” she said. 

“There’s nothing on the market that’s safe 100 per cent and that’s what I fight for. They’re vague on the label. Thousands of women have died from using tampons correctly.”

TSS occurs when usually harmless Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus bacteria, which live on the skin, invade the bloodstream and produce dangerous toxins.

Symptoms include a high fever, low blood pressure, vomiting, confusion and seizures.

It most commonly occurs in women using tampons. Each year Toxic Shock Syndrome affects about one in 100,000 women.

Tampon boxes come with a warning of the deadly infection after leaving it in for more than eight hours, although Lauren said she changed hers regularly.

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