A California model is sharing her story after she lost her leg and nearly died from bacterial infections allegedly caused by a tampon.
In October 2012, Lauren Wasser, now 27, went from going to sleep feeling slightly unwell to being rushed to the hospital “ten minutes from death” with a 107-degree fever, Vice reports.
The 5’11” model and athlete was eventually diagnosed with TSS – a compilation of bacterial infections associated with the use of tampons – which resulted in multiple health complications including gangrene, severe damage to her left foot and a below-the-knee amputation of her right leg.
“I wanted to kill myself when I got home,” she said. “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.”
Heartbroken Model Loses Leg to Toxic Shock Syndrome after Using a Tampon
Now, Wasser – who said she changed her Kotex Natural Balance tampon three times that day – is suing the manufacturer of the brand and fighting for a change in materials used to make the feminine products. She also hopes to educate other women about the potential risks of using tampons.
“Had I known all the info about TSS, I would never have used tampons,” she says. “You live your whole life and think, ‘I’m an athlete,’ or, ‘I’m a pretty girl,’ but this was something physical that I had no control over. It took me a while to figure out if I was still worthy, if I was still pretty.”
A spokesperson for the tampon manufacturer Kimberly-Clark told PEOPLE the company “does not comment regarding ongoing litigation.”