A model who lost her right leg to toxic shock syndrome caused by a tampon has revealed it’s “inevitable” she will lose her left leg too.
Lauren Wasser, 29, wants other women to be aware of the dangers of using tampons after she almost died from TSS in 2012.
She began to experience flu-like symptoms when she was on her period but it quickly spiraled into the potentially deadly infection.
Wasser suffered a heart attack, her kidneys failed and gangrene set in, leaving doctors with no choice but to amputate her right leg and some toes on her left foot.
The model and activist have permanent injuries on her left foot, which she says will “inevitably” lead to her having her second leg amputated.
“My left foot has an open ulcer, no heel, and no toes,” she wrote in InStyle. “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.”
Wasser 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 woman 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 10 times.
Toxic shock syndrome can cause the body to go into septic shock, a serious case of sepsis, which can cause multiple organ failures and tissue death, leading to limb loss.
Wasser was 24 when she became ill, in 2012 — a day which started like any other.
She was on her period and had to go to the store 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, chalking it up 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.
HUGE shoutout to my amazing Mommy @pamelareneecook ❤️ I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being next to me every step of the way. You always answer and try and give advice when needed. You’re the first heartbeat I ever heard & the reason I know how to love as deeply as I do. Thank you for being so amazing day in and day out you’re my best friend & I love you so much💕
“Just flu-like symptoms, I was feeling nauseous and my head was pounding.”
Wasser 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.
“All I wanted to do was get into bed,” she said. “The next thing I remember was my blind cocker spaniel barking and pounding on my chest.
“I came to and I could just hear pounding on the door and someone saying ‘police, police, open up.’
“I was so confused and thinking, ‘why are the police here?’
“The police officer came in and he told me I really needed to call my mom because she is really worried about me.
“I took myself back to my bed and plugged my phone in to call my mom.”
Her worried mom asked if she needed an ambulance but Wasser said she just wanted to sleep so her mom agreed to check on her the next morning.
“My mom never heard from me, she called for another while to check, called all my girlfriends to go to my apartment and was [on] her way,” Wasser said.
“She called the police and they came around, it took them 30 minutes to get through my front door and then found me on my bedroom floor face-down.
“I had a 107 F 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 was 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 mom 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.”
Wasser 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 on the phone.
“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 mom.”
Wasser 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 mom kissing my leg knowing that that’s the last time, it was crazy.
“It was f–king hell.”
Since sharing her story Wasser has been involved in multiple modeling 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.
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