Who Is Lauren Wasser? New Details On The Model Who Lost Both Her Legs To Toxic Shock Syndrome

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Who Is Lauren Wasser? New Details On The Model Who Lost Both Her Legs To Toxic Shock Syndrome

In 2012, Lauren Wasser used a super plus-sized tampon while she had her period. She contracted Toxic Shock Syndrome, a sudden, potentially fatal condition caused by the release of toxins from an overgrowth of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, which is found in many women's bodies. Lauren was 24. The night the TSS took hold of her she started to experience what she thought was the flu. She had a fever and felt faint. She went to the hospital to treat the "flu." While there she had a massive heart attack and was put on life support. Gangrene began to eat both of her legs. She was in extraordinary pain. Doctors gave Lauren a 1% change of survival. They had to amputate her right leg below the knee and the toes on her left foot. Six years later, she had to have her left leg amputated. Who is Lauren Wasser?

1. The day it happened

That day in 2012 was like any other. Lauren had her period and was out of tampons so she went to the store to buy some. When she got home she changed her tampon and was lying in bed texting friends about plans they had to go to a birthday party that night. Within just hours she began to feel like crap. The flu was going around, so she figured that's what she had. As the day went on, she felt worse and worse and wasn't sure she'd make the party. She was nauseous and her head was pounding. She went to the party and her friends sent her home because she looked really sick. 

2. Organ failure

Lauren's mom was so concerned for her daughter that she called the police twice. Lauren said: "She called the police and they came round, it took them 30 minutes to get through my front door and then found me on my bedroom floor face down. I had a 107F fever, my kidneys were failing, I had a heart attack. Thank god there was an infectious disease doctor there [at the hospital] because as soon as they found me I was plummeting so bad they couldn't understand why a healthy, young 24-year-old like me was dying.

RELATED: What Is Toxic Shock Syndrome? Why It's Important For Women To Know The Truth About TSS — And How To Prevent It

3. TSS diagnosis

Once Lauren got to the hospital, they called a specialist in and he checked to see if she had a tampon in. They took the tampon and sent it to the lab where it tested positive for TSS. Doctors told her mother to start preparing her funeral because no one thought she would survive. She was placed in a medically-induced coma, had a number of blood transfusions and was pumped full of fluids in an effort to flush out the toxins. She learned that her leg would have to be amputated when she overheard a nurse on the phone. Lauren said: "I remember her speaking to someone saying, 'I have a 24-year-old girl here who is going to need a right leg, below-the-knee amputation. I knew my legs were not good but I just couldn't... hearing those words come out of her mouth and being by myself, it was so surreal. I just kept crying and screaming and wanting my mom."

4. She gave them permission to amputate her leg

Lauren remembers the moment she signed the papers that would authorize the doctors to amputate her right leg. It was a choice between life and death.  "I don't think there is really anything you can do in that situation other than try and be strong. They write 'yes' and 'no' on your legs, like 'yes, this is the one that is going' and 'no, this is the one we are keeping'. To see that visually on your leg and seeing my mum kissing my leg knowing that that's the last time, it was crazy. It was f****** hell."

RELATED: Sad New Details About A 30-Year-Old Woman's Double Amputation After Contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome 

5. Her left leg

Six years after TSS and her right leg's amputation, Lauren chose to have her left leg amputated as well. The Los Angeles based model and activist was in excuciating pain daily. Her left foot had an open ulcer, no heel and no toes. The decision to amputate was one made to get out of pain. She told Today: “I just remember being in so much pain and my feet were just burning. I’m sitting on a little chair with one leg and half a foot and I remember thinking, ‘this is not real life.’” She captioned the photo below, from the day she had her left leg amputated:

"A tampon almost killed me. I was using the product as I should. I got away with my life with a 1 % chance of survival let alone a life worth living. Actually surviving was the easy part it was waking up to nightmare that was ahead. My right leg was damaged beyond repair and gangrene had set in and was moving fast. Drs gave me no choice but to lose my right leg. My left foot was the issue. Drs told my family and I that I should amputate both legs at the same time below the knee because my left foot had a 50/50 chance of being functional. I would have no toes and my heel was still in question if it was actually going close. nothing on this planet is as precious as your feet. They have just enough fat pads in areas that take a beating for everyone to do anything and everything but without that it’s almost impossible to just walk. You can’t just get a normal skin graph or transplant because that tough skin doesn’t exist. That’s why my only option was Apligraf.(baby foreskin) after being in a wheelchair for 8 months with my foot in a vac and hyperbaric chamber visits for hours on end my heel actually closed. That being said I had it for 6 years with no toes. Because I was so young my body was trying to fix the damage and creating way too much calcium in which my bones in my foot would grow almost like toes. But I was walking on that everyday. Skin and bone. It was like walking on pebbles and rocks. Every step was hard and everything I did I had to mentally fight through because the physical pain was insane. I honestly can say I wouldn’t be alive had I amputated at the same time. It would have been too much for me. Losing one leg was traumatic enough. I learned a lot through trial and error with becoming an amputee. Which systems worked which feet I liked and becoming one with it. It took a long time for me to accept it. The first year I hid myself in hoodies and baggy sweats trying to not exist. I contemplated suicide. I have been through it all. Today marks one year since letting go of my left leg and gaining my life back. I really feel like the 24 year old girl before all this happened."

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6. She's training for the New York City Marathon

Lauren's prosthetics are gold with running blades. She calls them her trophies. She is training to run the 2019 New York City marathon this fall. 

RELATED: What It Means If You Have Flu-Like Symptoms Before Your Period

7. She is an advocate

Today, Lauren is an advocate for the Robin Danielson Act, a bill named for a woman who died of TSS in 1988. The bill asks the makers of feminie hygiene products to fully disclose what they put in their products. The bill has been rejected by the House of Representatives 10 times. TSS most commonly occurs in women using tampons and affects about one in 100,000 women.  

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long distance runner. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.