Lauren Wasser was living a dream as a model in California and had already appeared on the cover of Italian Vogue. The athletic young woman was also pursuing acting classes and was frequently seen out on the town with friends. However, that all changed in October of 2012, when she went to a local grocery store and picked up a box of her favorite tampons, Kotex Natural Balance. The tampon user knew that the tampons should be changed every three to four hours and had frequently used the product. However, on this particular day, Wasser would learn of the very real dangers of tampon use. The young and promising model would suffer heart failure and almost die before having her right leg amputated below the knee due to an infection from the tampon. Though she is lucky to be alive, Wasser is now suing the tampon manufacturer, Kotex, and the grocery stores that supplied the tampons in a bid to increase awareness of Toxic Shock Syndrome, the infection that claimed her right leg.
The Daily Mail reports that Lauren Wesser was just 24-years-old when she picked up a pack of Kotex Natural Balance tampons from a local grocery store. Wesser says that she remembers changing her tampon in the morning, afternoon, and evening on the day that would change her life forever. Wesser says that after changing her tampon in the evening, she went to a friend’s house to attend a party. However, the young model says she began to feel incredibly ill and decided to go back to her own home to sleep it off. Wesser says the next thing she remembers is police pounding on her door, but in the midst of her haze, she just went back to sleep. Shortly after, her friend arrived at the house again with police, who found Wesser face down on her floor with a 107 degree temperature.
Lauren was rushed to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with Toxic Shock Syndrome, an infection that can be contracted through tampon use. The model was battling for her life as she experienced heart failure and was just 10 minutes away from death. Doctors put her in a medically — induced coma, and she survived the ordeal. However, the infection turned to gangrene and her right leg had to be amputated just below the knee.
According to Vice, Lauren is now suing the manufacturer of the tampon as well as the retailers for “negligently, wantonly, recklessly, tortuously, and unlawfully” being “responsible in some manner” for Lauren’s hospitalization for Toxic Shock Syndrome. Lauren’s legal team hopes to “make a point about the use of synthetic materials in the tampon industry as a whole.” Synthetics in tampons pose a risk to women’s health, according to Dr. Philip M. Tierno, a professor of microbiology and pathology at the NYU School of Medicine, as “most major tampon manufacturers make tampons with either mixes of viscose rayon and cotton, or pure viscose rayon, and in either case those tampons provide optimal physical-chemical conditions necessary to cause the production of the TSST-1 toxin if a toxigenic strain of Staphylococcus aureus is part of the normal vaginal flora in a woman.”
Interestingly, though synthetic tampons pose a potential health risk to women, the FDA has decided to go after the menstrual cup manufacturers in an attempt to label the feminine hygiene product as a “medical device.“
Do you think that tampon manufacturers should be held liable for women who suffer from Toxic Shock Syndrome from tampon use? Should manufacturers be required to remove the potentially harmful synthetic fibers from tampons as they provide the perfect breeding ground for TSS?
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