Toxic Shock Syndrome: Michigan Student, 15, On Life Support After Contracting Rare Infection From Tampon

A 15-year-old Michigan student, Rylie Whitten, is fighting for her life after contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome from a tampon. The competitive dancer and violinist went from being a healthy and vibrant teen girl to being placed on life support after inserting a tampon during her menstrual cycle. The teen suffered an extremely rare infection caused by tampon use that can lead to life-threatening complications. The teen was diagnosed with Toxic Shock Syndrome, a form of a staph infection caused by a common feminine hygiene product, which has caused the teen’s organs to fail.

The Daily Mail reports that 15-year-old Rylie Whitten is on life support after her condition declined rapidly after falling ill on January 4. Rylie’s parents say the teen was supposed to return for the first day of school following winter break but began to feel sick. The teen was complaining that her whole body ached, so she stayed home from school and tried to sleep it off. However, the next morning things got progressively worse, with Ryle beginning to vomit with increasing pain. Therefore, her parents rushed her to the doctor who ruled out the flu and meningitis. Multiple tests were ran and one came back particularly alarming. The doctor then immediately called for a medical helicopter to rush Rylie to a Grand Rapids hospital for treatment.

Doctors discovered that Rylie was experiencing kidney failure from Toxic Shock Syndrome. Dialysis was performed on the previously health teen but then other organs began to fail including her heart and lungs. The doctors placed Rylie on life support where the teen began fighting for her life. All of this, Rylie’s parents note, from a tampon. Now Rylie’s parents are speaking out about their daughter’s plight in a bid to raise awareness about Toxic Shock Syndrome, noting that if the information saves one family from their devastation, then it is worth it.

“I do not wish this on anyone in the world. If we could do something somehow, Rylie would want to do that to get this out there.”

According to a GoFundMe page set up by one of Rylie’s friends, Rylie is still on life support but appears to be making some progress.

“Rylie and her family have been though quite a bit over the last week and a half. Rylie is still in ICU at Devos Childrens Hosptial. She has been on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation life support machine, receiving kidney dialysis, and several medications all while remianing sedated. Over the past few days Rylie has woken up and looked at her parents. She tries to pull the tubes out so that she can speak. She is a fighter. Her heart is back and she has been stable for some time. This week they will continue to montior and possibly remove the ventilator.”

Doctors note that Toxic Shock Syndrome is incredibly rare, but it is most common in young women who use highly absorbent tampons. Symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome include:

  • a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or above
  • fainting
  • widespread sunburn-like rash on the body, particularly the hands and feet
  • and three or more organs failing to infection

Though this deadly complication associated with tampon use is rare, doctors say that tampon users should never wear a tampon for more than four to six hours. Additionally, tampons should never be worn overnight and super absorbency tampons should be avoided. Instead, doctors suggest changing your tampon more frequently.

Rylie Whitten isn’t the only young woman to suffer horrifying consequences from Toxic Shock Syndrome. Model Lauren Wasser lost her leg due to the complication from her tampon. Wasser has since sued Kotex and is pushing for more research on the dangers of tampon use.

Did you know that tampons should never be worn overnight and that super absorbency tampons should be avoided to lessen your risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome?

[Image via Facebook/ Prayers for Rylie]