Laura Wasser, the model who got Toxic Shock Syndrome from a tampon and lost a leg because of it, is about to lose her other leg too, and she wants women to know about the dangers of TSS.
Back in 2012, when she was just 24, Wasser almost lost her life after using tampons and getting TSS. She went into a coma, lost her right leg and the toes on her left foot, and it's not over just yet.
Since the traumatic experience in 2012, Wasser has returned to her modeling career, joined a DirecTV series, and became an activist to raise awareness about TSS, but she's still in constant pain, and she will not be able to keep her other leg for much longer. She wanted to share her story and offer more details about what happened.
The Story Of Lauren Wasser
On Oct. 3, 2012, the model was on her period and ran out of tampons, so she went out and got some from the grocery store. Not long after, she started feeling ill, but she blamed the start of the flu season. She started feeling worse after changing her tampon again in the afternoon, but she had to go to a friend's birthday party, so she took a shower, changed her tampon again, and headed out.
She reached the restaurant but was not feeling well, so her friends suggested she go home. She spent just a few minutes at her friend's birthday party and headed home, took her clothes off, and went to bed. She did not know it at a time, but she spiked a fever, and her condition was getting worse.
Wasser had a close relationship with her mother and talked daily, so when she didn't respond to any messages, her mother got worried and called the police to check up on her daughter. Wasser recalls waking up to an out-of-control dog, as Madison, her cocker spaniel, was trying to wake her up because the police were knocking at the door.
Wasser eventually got up and answered the door, and the police officer told her to call her mother because she was worried. She called her mom, who asked whether she needed an ambulance, but she brushed it off and told her to check on her again in the morning.
The next day, things were already far worse. Wasser doesn't recall anything else. She only knows what she's been told. Her mother asked the police to do a welfare check again, and they found her on the floor, face down, covered in her own vomit and feces. She had a 108-degree fever, and she was not responding, so the police called the paramedics who took her to the hospital.
TSS From Tampons
When she got to the hospital, the nurses and doctors were baffled to see a young 24-year-old woman in such a state for no apparent reason. An infectious disease doctor, however, put things together after realizing that she was wearing a tampon when she got to the emergency room.
He sent the tampon to the lab for testing, and three days later, the results indicated signs of TSS-1. Wasser's state had gotten worse, so the doctors put her in a medically induced coma. She had unstable blood pressure, a heart attack, and her organs were shutting down.
After a week and a half in a coma, she woke up not knowing what happened or where she was. She had gangrene in her right leg, while on her left foot, her heel and all toes were damaged. Doctors said her left foot might make it, but they recommended amputating both legs to be safe. She agreed to have her right leg amputated because the gangrene was advancing, but she decided to fight for her left leg.
Years later, Wasser now says that she is still always in pain and that she will not be able to save her left leg after all.
"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," Wasser notes.
Wasser has dedicated herself to raising awareness about TSS and how to prevent it. She wants other women to learn about the potential risks of using tampons, and she feels that there should be more disclosure. She says that the risks are "beyond minimized," as tampon commercials just show happy women in bikinis at the beach.
What Is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)?
Toxic Shock Syndrome, or TSS for short, is a bacterial infection complication, and it can be fatal. According to the Mayo Clinic, TSS is primarily associated with the use of superabsorbent tampons. The Mayo Clinic recommends calling a doctor as soon as possible if there are any signs or symptoms of TSS.
"This is especially important if you've recently used tampons or if you have a skin or wound infection."
The most absorbent part of a woman's body is the vagina, and inserting a tampon can also insert toxins and chemicals. TSS is rare, and many young girls have not even heard of it, although it carries serious implications and can be fatal. Wasser wants more women to be aware of the risks associated with tampons and is supporting Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's Robin Danielson Act, which has yet to pass.
The Robin Danielson Act is named after a woman who died back in 1998 because of TSS. The bill seeks to determine companies that make feminine hygiene products to clearly disclose what the products contain, what risks they pose, and what long-term health effects they may have. The bill was rejected 10 times so far.
"Considering that the vagina is the most absorbent part of a woman's body and is a gateway to many of our vital organs, it is crucial that consumers know the reality of what could happen to them," Wasser pleads.
"I am writing this in hopes that you will understand that we, as women, need more education about TSS. It is time that we, as consumers, demand safer products and more transparency about what is going into our bodies."