GREENVILLE, MI (WTNH)– A 15-year-old girl is off life support after she was nearly killed by toxic shock syndrome she got from using a tampon.
People Magazine reports that on January 2nd, Rylie Whitten, of Greenville, Michigan, started complaining of body aches, which her parents initially believed was from the flu. However, when her symptoms worsened, she was taken to the emergency room for testing. While Whitten tested negative for the flu and spinal meningitis, her blood tests showed she had a major infection and kidney malfunction. She was flown by helicopter to a children’s hospital where they then determined she had toxic shock syndrome.
Toxic shock syndrome is a rare but life threatening bacterial infection that causes shock, organ damage, and even death. While the earliest case of toxic shock syndrome involved tampon use, the National Institute of Health reports that today less than half of the cases are linked to tampons. However, for Whitten, her toxic shock syndrome was from using a high-absorbency tampon, even though she had used it properly.
“It took over all of her major organs and shut them down,” her father Nate Whitten, told People.
Whitten has spent of most of her hospital stay on life support and will need intensive physical and occupational therapy in the future.
“Right now she’s completely off the ventilator – she’s breathing on her own – and her heart is beating on its own. She has a case of pneumonia and her vocal cords are a little damaged just from being on the ventilator for so long, but she’s just starting to talk a little bit. The biggest sigh of relief is that she’s mentally there,” said Nate.
Nate says their community has been very supportive holding prayer vigils, setting up a Facebook group and even dedicating a half-time show at her high school to her.
“I think reality’s setting in about how many times we almost lost our daughter,” Nate told People.
Model Lauren Wasser, who made headlines last summer after her leg had to be amputated because of toxic shock syndrome from a tampon, also spoke out about the disease.
She told People, “My heart breaks for this little girl and her family. This is why I have been so vocal about my experience. [Toxic Shock Syndrome] is real.”