Yes, it can happen.

By the time she was 24 years old, Lauren Wasser had it all. The child of two models, she was 5’11” with blonde hair, blue eyes, and she had even received a full basketball scholarship to college. She also had a budding modeling career, which she ultimately chose over the scholarship. Everything seemed to be smooth sailing. As a model, Lauren lived in her own Santa Monica apartment and was part of the shiny LA social scene. 


Photo Credit: Jennifer Rovero/Camraface

Lauren told VICE in an interview “everything was based on looks…I was that girl, and I didn’t even think about it.” Everything was perfect, and it might have remained that way if it weren’t for a fateful day in October 2012. On that day, Lauren felt “off.” She thought she might be coming down with the flu, but it turned out to be far worse.

Contributing to her discomfort, Lauren had her period, so she headed to the drugstore and picked up her go-to tampon brand, Kotex Natural Balance. Later on, she attended a friend’s party with hopes of regaining her spirits. Instead, her ailment worsened and, becoming very uneasy, she decided to head home.


Photo Credit: Brad Cerenzia

When Lauren got to her place, she went straight to bed. She didn’t wake up until a day later, and then only because her mother (who lived in another town) was so worried that she sent police and a friend to Lauren’s apartment for a welfare check. It’s a good thing her mother trusted her instincts because Lauren was immediately rushed to the hospital with a 107 degree fever. When she arrived, doctors said she was 10 minutes away from death.

Unbelievably, Lauren had suffered a massive heart attack. The doctor asked if she had a tampon in, and, when it was sent to the lab, she tested positive for toxic shock syndrome (TSS). The disease forms through a combination of bacterial infections, and it is most commonly contracted from using tampons that are made from synthetic materials like rayon and plastic. In combination with a tampon’s absorbency, these synthetics can create the ideal breeding ground for staph bacteria to flourish.


Photo Credit: Jennifer Rovero/Camraface