Note: we are republishing this story which originally made the news in July 2023.
Lauren Wasser, a 35-year-old model, recently shared her near-death experience with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) caused by a tampon. The terrifying ordeal left her with both legs amputated below the knee and a strong determination to raise awareness about the potential risks associated with feminine hygiene products.
Wasser recounted her harrowing journey on The Diary Of A CEO podcast with Steven Bartlett. What began as flu-like symptoms quickly escalated, resulting in a massive heart attack and life support. Gangrene took hold of both her legs, leaving no choice but to amputate them.
Now based in Los Angeles, Wasser is on a mission to alert women and young girls to the hidden dangers of tampons. She’s advocating for legislation that mandates transparency in feminine hygiene products.
In 2012, at the age of 24, Wasser turned down a full basketball scholarship to pursue her career in fashion. Little did she know that her life would take a drastic turn. As she fell ill, initially believing it was the flu, she was found unconscious and near death in her apartment, covered in feces and vomit. A wellness check by her mother had saved her life.
Her fever reached a dangerous 107 degrees, leading to a heart attack and organ failure. An infectious disease doctor suspected TSS after conducting a test. TSS is a rare and life-threatening bacterial infection often misdiagnosed due to symptoms resembling more common illnesses.
While Wasser’s life was spared, the gangrene damage to her legs was irreversible, necessitating amputation. She described the excruciating burning sensation in her feet, and the grim decision to amputate her right leg to save her life.
The revelation about her leg’s fate came unexpectedly when she overheard a nurse speaking on the phone. The trauma of the situation and the pain she endured post-amputation left her traumatized.
After being discharged from the hospital, Wasser spent eight months in a wheelchair. She wrestled with despair, thoughts of suicide, and a relentless desire to end her suffering.
Despite initially saving her left leg, Wasser faced unbearable pain over the years, ultimately leading to the difficult decision to amputate it before her 30th birthday.
In her dedication to raise awareness about TSS, Wasser highlighted concerning ingredients found in tampons, such as chlorine bleach, dioxin, and synthetic fibers. She emphasized the urgent need for better transparency in women’s menstrual products.
Wasser’s advocacy efforts include working with others who have experienced the impact of TSS, like Madeline Mosby, a mother who lost her teenage daughter to the condition. Together, they strive to pass legislation promoting transparency and safer menstrual products.
Additionally, Wasser collaborates with Democratic congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to support legislation that would require feminine hygiene product manufacturers to list all ingredients on their packaging.
Despite her challenging journey, Wasser has made a name for herself in the fashion industry, appearing in campaigns for prestigious brands like Lacoste, Furla, and Shiseido. She’s affectionately known as “fashion’s Girl with the Golden Legs” due to her golden prosthetic limbs.
Toxic shock syndrome occurs when typically harmless skin bacteria invade the bloodstream, producing dangerous toxins. Symptoms include high fever, low blood pressure, vomiting, confusion, and seizures. While rare, it primarily affects women who use tampons, emphasizing the need for awareness.
Tampon packaging already carries warnings about the deadly infection if left in for more than eight hours, but Wasser’s story underscores the importance of additional precautions and transparency.
Sources: Daily Mail