Model Lauren Wasser opens up about possibly losing second leg to toxic shock syndrome

By Gillian Telling and Michelle Ward Trainor
December 29, 2017 07:57 AM

Lauren Wasser is again opening up about the toll toxic shock syndrome has taken on her life.

The model, 29, lost her right leg after contracting the rare but life-threatening condition — which is caused by bacterial toxins — from a tampon in 2012. She has since become an activist for more safety research.

“When I see ads for tampons, it’s always a woman running on the beach or swimming in the ocean,” Wasser told PEOPLE. “There’s no warning whatsoever that a.) a tampon could a kill you, or b.) you could lose limbs or forever be damaged by using this product. When I see that, I think, “I haven’t been able to do any of those things in five years. So much of my life has been taken because of this.”

RELATED VIDEO: I Wanted to Kill Myself’: Heartbroken Model Loses Leg to Toxic Shock Syndrome after Using a Tampon

Another hurdle she predicts having to face soon is losing her left leg. “I don’t have toes, and I have to go to wound care every Monday for my heel. I’m in so much pain. It’s a hard decision, but my only way to freedom,” says the former basketball player. “I can’t wait to have two gold blades, to run and feel the wind on my face again.”

Jennifer Rovero

In the meantime, Wasser continues to speak up about TSS. She advocated for legislation — introduced in May by Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney — that will require the National Institutes of Health to conduct or support research to determine the safety of ingredients in feminine hygiene products.

“Because we are women we have to fight for everything, we need to stick together,” she says. “It’s transparency I’m looking for. I think being more honest with the general public about the risks and educating them on using the products, signs to look out for.”

She continued: “Just being able to broaden the conversation and open people’s eyes that this is something that really needs to change. The vagina is the most absorbant part of the woman’s body. If you have a toxic tampon you put it in the most absorbant part your body it goes straight to you blood stream.”