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Lauren Wasser: Model Loses Leg To Toxic Shock Syndrome After Using Tampon

Fri, June 19, 2015 4:38pm EDT by 14 Comments
Model Loses Leg TSS Tampon
Courtesy of Instagram

A terrifying story! Three years ago, model Lauren Wasser nearly died from Toxic Shock Syndrome after using a tampon.  Now, for the first time, she is opening up about her harrowing experience that forced her to lose one of her legs, and is issuing a serious warning to other women.

She’s a brave one! Lauren Wasser, a 27-year-old model from California, opened up in an in-depth interview to share her frightening story of narrowly escaping death in October 2012. One minute, she was falling asleep, feeling mildly sick. Then, in a flash, she was rushed to the hospital, organs shutting down, fighting for her life as she battled Toxic Shock Syndrome, a brutal and rare infection caused by using tampons. Her life was saved, but only after her leg was amputated, and it’s taken her three years to finally come to terms with what’s happened to her. Now, with a lawsuit against Kotex pending, the model is ready to speak out to educate other girls out there.

“I wanted to kill myself when I got home,” she told Vice in her first sit-down interview about her sudden diagnosis of TSS, a bacterial infection that is associated with tampon use. While the infection developing is a rare occurrence, when the bacteria becomes overgrown, and releases in the body, it becomes deadly very fast. That is exactly what happened to Lauren. She explains that she was rushed to the hospital after she woke up suddenly with a 107 degree fever and, as she would later learn, by the time she reached the ER, her organs were already shutting down. In fact, she was a mere ten minutes from potentially losing her life. That’s when her doctors had to take extreme measures and amputate her leg. “All of a sudden I don’t have a leg,” she explains. “I’m in a wheelchair, I have half a foot, I can’t even walk to the bathroom.”

Lauren, a  5’11 model, was rising fast on the social ladder in Hollywood at the time, but that all came to a halt after her amputation. She remembers overhearing a nurse talking about her below-the-knee amputation. “I thought, Oh my God, she’s talking about me,” Wasser said. “I’m going to lose my leg.”

Lauren has finally come to terms with what has happened to her and while she was in the hospital, her mother began the lawsuit against Kimberly-Clark Corpoaration, which manufacturers of Kotex Natural Balance tampons, the brand she was using at the time. Now, it’s become Lauren’s mission to education other women and demand change in the industry. “Had I known all the info about TSS, I would never have used tampons,” she says. “It took me a while to figure out if I was still worthy, if I was still pretty.”

Tampons May Be Toxic: Lauren Wasser Is Demanding Change

“The tampon has not been changed since the day of the original TSS epidemic,” Lauren’s lawyer told Vice. “All they did was put on the label, ‘Oh, you can get toxic shock.’ The material has gone unchanged for decades.” While the label on the tampon box explains one should, “Change your tampon every four to eight hours, including overnight”, Laurens family feels it needs to be more specific. We so agree! Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) recently introduced a bill titled the Robin Danielson Act,that would “establish a program of research” about the possible “risks posed by the presence of dioxin, synthetic fibers, chemical fragrances, and other components of feminine hygiene products.”

HollywoodLifers – Where do you stand on this issue? We would love to hear your thoughts.

— Joey Parker