I lost BOTH of my legs after contracting toxic shock syndrome from tampons

I lost BOTH of my legs after contracting toxic shock syndrome from tampons


A MODEL has revealed how she lost both of her legs after getting toxic shock syndrome from tampons.

Lauren Wasser, 31, from Los Angeles, hasn’t let her amputations hold her back, and the inspiring woman is training to do a marathon.

Lauren developed toxic shock syndrome in 2012 after using a super-plus tampon during her period.

The model was forced to have a leg amputated as a result, but was able to keep the other one for several years – until health complications resulted in her choosing to remove the other too.

She revealed this week on the Today show that the difficult decision for the second amputation is what spurred her on to become more active.

Lauren signed up for the New York City marathon, which is taking place later this year.

The model and activist has spoken out about her ordeal to warn others of the dangers of using tampons.

Speaking to InStyle, ahead of the second opp, Lauren said: "My left foot has an open ulcer, no heel, and no toes. I'm in daily excruciating pain.

"In a few months, I’m inevitably going to have my other leg amputated.

"There’s nothing I can do about it. But what I can do is help make sure that this doesn’t happen to others."

Lauren is now pushing for legislation urging the National Institutes of Health in the US to conduct further research into whether feminine hygiene products like tampons are safe.

She is a strong advocate for a bill called the Robin Danielson Act, named after a women who died of TSS in 1988, asking makers of feminine hygiene products to fully disclose what is in their products.

But the bill has been rejected by US politicians ten times.

Toxic shock syndrome can cause the body to go into septic shock, a serious case of sepsis, which can cause multiple organ failure and tissue death, leading to limb loss.

Lauren was 24 when she became ill, in 2012 – a day which started like any other.

She was on her period, and so had to go to the shop to buy some tampons, after running out.

When she returned home, she changed her tampon before lying in bed texting friends about a birthday party they were going to later that night.

But, within hours she began to feel unwell, putting it down to a flu bug that was doing the rounds.

"I was deciding if I was even going to make it because I was feeling worse and worse as the day went on," she told Style Like U.

"Just flu-like symptoms, I was feeling nauseous and my head was pounding."

Lauren decided to go to the party but as soon as she got there her worried friends told her she looked too ill and sent her home.

Her mum was so concerned that she called the emergency services twice.

Lauren said: "She called the police and they came round, it took them 30 minutes to get through my front door and then found me on my bedroom floor face down.

"I had a 107F (41C) fever, my kidneys were failing, I had a heart attack.

"Thank god there was an infectious disease doctor there [at the hospital] because as soon as they found me I was plummeting so bad they couldn't understand why a healthy, young 24-year-old like me was dying.

"They called the specialist down and he checked if I had a tampon in.

"As soon as they located it it got sent to the lab and it came back as TSS and as soon as they removed it I started being more receptive to treatment.

"They were telling my mum and my godfather to start preparing my funeral because there was no way I was walking out of there – it would have been a miracle."

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare but potentially fatal condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins.

Your condition will deteriorate rapidly and the infection can cause organ failure, or eventually death, if not treated immediately.

Symptoms include:

  • A fever and high temperature: of 39C (102F) or above
  • Flu-like symptoms: headache, chills, muscle ache, sore throat, cough etc
  • Feeling and/or being sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • A widespread, sunburn-like rash
  • Redness in the whites of your eyes, lips and tongue
  • Dizziness and/or fainting
  • Difficulty breathing

How to reduce your risk:

There are a number of ways you can reduce your risk of getting TSS:

  • Treat wounds and burns quickly and get medical advice if you develop an unusual infection, swelling, redness and/or increased pain.
  • Always use a tampon with the lowest absorbency suitable for your level of menstrual flow.
  • Switch tampons with sanitary towels and panty liners during your period.
  • Wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon.
  • Change tampons regularly, don’t leave diaphragms etc in for longer than the recommended time.
  • Never insert more than one tampon at a time.
  • If using a tampon at night, insert a new one before bed and remove it as soon as you wake up.
  • Stop using tampons when you finish your period.

If you’ve suffered from TSS before, stop using tampons and female barrier contraception.

Lauren was placed in a medically induced coma, had multiple blood transfusions and was pumped full of fluids to flush out the toxins.

She first learned she needed an amputation when she overheard a nurse speaking to someone of the phone.

The model said: "I remember her speaking to someone saying, 'I have a 24-year-old girl here who is going to need a right leg, below-the-knee amputation.

"I knew my legs were not good but I just couldn't… hearing those words come out of her mouth and being by myself, it was so surreal.

"I just kept crying and screaming and wanting my mum."

Lauren recalled the moment she signed the papers to allow doctors to amputate her right leg – a choice between life or death.

"I don't think there is really anything you can do in that situation other than try and be strong," she said.

"They write 'yes' and 'no' on your legs, like 'yes, this is the one that is going' and 'no, this is the one we are keeping'.

"To see that visually on your leg and seeing my mum kissing my leg knowing that that's the last time, it was crazy.

"It was f****** hell."

Since sharing her story Lauren has been involved in multiple modelling gigs with her gold prosthetic leg.

She has also campaigned for more research into the use of tampons and the potential dangers they pose for women who use them.

We shared how toxic shock syndrome from a tampon almost killed make-up artist after it was mistaken for flu.

Meanwhile, a mum nearly died after tiny piece of tampon was left inside her leaving her battling toxic shock syndrome.


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