This Model Lost Her Leg From Using Tampons

Now would be a good time for me to denounce the idea that men are scared of the words “period” and “tampon”. It might make me look mature. Honourable, even. But while I’m not going to do this, what I will say is that periods and tampons are both a part of adult female life and that I certainly didn’t think they could kill you. Until today.

Lauren Wasser was a model and a Los Angeles socialite with a full basketball scholarship for college and a future brighter than the Californian sun. With her blonde hair and blue eyes, she had a striking appearance even before the incident.

This Model Lost Her Leg From Using Tampons

Lauren was at a friend’s party when she decided that she was too ill to stay and needed to go home. She was suffering from what seemed like flu but was also on her period at the same time. The brand of tampon she was using was Kotex Natural Balance. This was by no means a change from the norm though, and it was her regular brand.

When she got home, Lauren went to bed but didn’t wake for a whole day – until she heard police banging at her door. Her mother, who was in another town, had become worried and got in touch with a local friend and the police department. Lauren was rushed to hospital with a 107 degree fever. She had suffered a massive heart attack. Doctors stated that she was around 10 minutes away from death when she arrived.

Lauren was suffering from toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a disease which can occur when a person has a combination of bacterial infections. Her condition was so bad that the safest thing to do was to put her into a medically induced coma. With Lauren relatively ‘stable’ it was decided that her leg would have to be amputated in order to give her the best chance of recovery.

This Model Lost Her Leg From Using Tampons

It was at this point that her mother issued a lawsuit to the makers of the product – the Kimberly-Clark Corporation – and the two stores which distribute it. She stated that the defendants were “negligently, wantonly, recklessly, tortuously, and unlawfully responsible in some manner” for Lauren’s TSS. Kimberly-Clark have as yet failed to comment as the lawsuit is ongoing.

The science behind the headline is relatively simple. Tampons use highly synthetic materials such as plastic and rayon which, combined with a tampon’s necessarily absorbency, creates an ideal breeding ground for staph bacteria. It’s thought that this is how the TSS was able to take hold in such a dramatic and devastating manner.

This Model Lost Her Leg From Using Tampons

Following the amputation, Lauren made a full recovery. But life was extremely though afterwards. “I wanted to kill myself when I got home,” she explains. “I was this girl–and then all of a sudden I don’t have a leg, I’m in a wheelchair, I have half a foot, I can’t even walk to the bathroom. I’m in a bed, I can’t move, and I felt like those four walls were my prison.”

Knowing how much she meant to her little brother was the one thing that kept her going. However, Lauren now embraces her new appearance and even plays basketball again. Having faced her demons and conquered an insurmountable challenge, she is now a stronger person for having lived through it.

For another tale of beauty and bravery, read our article about this perception-changing model with down syndrome.