Lauren Wasser was a 24-year-old model enjoying everything life had to offer. Although she’d been given a full-ride basketball scholarship to a Division I school, the 5’11’’ girl decided to pursue modeling instead. When she wasn’t modeling she was biking, playing basketball and enjoying time with friends. Little did she know that all of that would be taken away from her on October 3, 2012.
That was the day that Lauren felt like she was coming down with the flu. She figured she was just feeling off because she was on her period and went about her normal life. She had been getting her period for 11 years at this point and was well versed in proper tampon usage and warnings. On the day that tampons almost killed her she had replaced hers in the morning, afternoon and evening. By the end of the day, Lauren was feeling so ill that she left a friends birthday party early and went home to sleep.
She doesn’t know how long she slept for, but she remembers waking up to the police pounding on her door and her dog barking. Her mom had called the police for a welfare check because no one had heard from Lauren and she was getting concerned. The officer simply told her to call her mom, and left. Her mom was worried and asked if she needed an ambulance. “But I was so sick that I couldn’t make that decision for myself,” Lauren said, according to Vice. The last thing Lauren remembers is telling her mom that she wanted to go to bed and that she’d call her in the morning.
When Lauren’s mom didn’t hear from her the next day she sent a friend over with the police where they found Lauren passed out on her bedroom floor.
When she arrived at the hospital her fever was 107 degrees and the doctors said she was 10 minutes from death. She’d suffered a massive heart attack and her internal organs were shutting down. She was fading fast and the doctors had no idea why until an infectious disease specialist asked if she had a tampon in. Not only was she wearing a tampon, it came back from the lab positive for toxic shock syndrome.
Lauren was put into a medically induced coma and her mother was told to pray. She woke up days later to a bloated, pained body that she couldn’t believe was her own. The infection in her body had turned into gangrene and it was causing a burning sensation in her hands and feet. “It’s the most excruciating pain I’ve ever – I don’t know how to describe it to you,” she says. Even after hyperbaric oxygen therapy Lauren still had to have her right leg amputated from the knee down.
Lauren is very open about the pain she’s gone through. She says, “I wanted to kill myself when I got home. 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.”
Lauren is taking her pain and everything she has gone through and using it to help others. The Robin Danielson Act is named after a woman who died of TSS in 1998 and it seeks to research the dangers of feminine care products. Although this bill sounds like it makes perfect sense it has been blocked nine times before ever coming to a vote. Lauren wants to change that and hopes to appear in front of Congress to get this bill passed. She things that the dangers of TSS should be more well known saying that, “had I known all the info about TSS, I would never have used tampons.”
Lauren is thankful to be alive and is spreading her words of warning to all the tampon users she knows. Follow in her footsteps and SHARE this story and pass it on!