In 2012, when LA-based model Lauren Wesser was 24, she fell ill after using a tampon. She was found in her apartment, just 10 minutes away from death, unconscious and covered in faeces and vomit. At the hospital, she’d reached a 107 degrees, suffered a heart attack while her organs started to fail putting her in a medically induced coma.
The doctors predicted an infectious disease, probably caused by a tampon. She was soon diagnosed with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). The disease damaged her legs and the doctors had to amputate her right leg.
According to Daily Mail, now, after six years, the 29-year-old model lost her left leg last week because bones continued to grow where her toes once were, leading to excruciating pain.
What is TSS?
TSS is a life-threatening bacterial disease, which can often been misdiagnosed because its symptoms resemble other common illnesses. The symptoms include: high fever, low blood pressure, vomiting, and seizures, among others. TSS most commonly occurs in women who use tampons, have recently given birth, or are using an internal barrier contraceptive such as a diaphragm. The infection occurs when the generally harmless staphylococcus aureus or streptococcus bacteria, which live on the skin, invade the bloodstream and produce dangerous toxins.
“Though the instances of TSS have been on the decline, one should be careful. Avoid using super absorbent tampons. Don’t leave the tampon on for too long as this could lead to breeding of the bacteria. The disease could also affect women who have recently given birth, if there’s an open wound,” says Dr Sonali Gaur, FRCOG, UK, MD, consultation, obstetrics and gynaecology.
Life after TSS
The disease could not dampen Wesser’s spirit. Though She lived with a gold prosthetic leg and continued her modelling career, until recently when she developed an infection in her left leg. “Life is about to be so different, again! I’m in great spirits though and ready for my next chapter,” Wasser wrote in an Instagram post. She could not wet her foot as she developed an open ulcer.
Today, Wesser is advocating for a bill called the Robin Danielson Act, named after a woman who died of TSS. It is asking the National Institutes of Health to do research on potential risks of feminine hygiene products. She has even spoken about her story on TED Talks.