Parents Warn Others About Toxic Shock Syndrome After Tragedy Strikes Teen Daughter

emergencyOf all the many dangerous things we parents fear will do our teen daughters harm, tampons are pretty low on the list -- except, maybe they shouldn't be. A 15-year-old Michigan girl was recently placed on life support for toxic shock syndrome after doctors determined her lungs and cardiovascular system were failing, and now her family wants to warn other parents about this often fatal illness.


Rylie Whitten reportedly started feeling sick on January 4, and stayed home from school for two days before her symptoms got so bad that her parents decided to take her to the emergency room. As her father, Nate Whitten, told WZZM 13:

“She was lying in bed. All of a sudden, she was moaning. This is not Rylie at all.”

Once at the local ER in Greenberg, doctors quickly determined that Rylie's symptoms were not the result of the flu or meningitis; within about "10 to 15 minutes" of getting her blood work done, the teen was airlifted to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, where she was put on life support for a "severe infection" that led to toxic shock syndrome.

While toxic shock syndrome only affects about one in every 100,000 women in the US, girls ages 15 to 19 are at the highest risk for developing the condition, and it's fatal 50 percent of the time. According to Dr. Daliya Khuon, an infectious disease specialist at Rylie's hospital, “the number of hours you have a tampon in and the number of days you’ve used tampons is associated with increased risk" of TSS. 

Being that I am the mother of a 14-year-old girl, this story really hits home. And since changing a tampon frequently isn't even a guarantee that you won't get TSS, it's pretty terrifying. I mean, what are you supposed to do as a parent -- ban tampons from your house and tell your daughter she can never go swimming when she has her period? Not particularly realistic.

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Thankfully, Rylie is being taken off life support, and naturally has lots of people hoping and praying for her speedy recovery.

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

Get well soon, Rylie!


Image via Taber Andrew Bain/Flickr

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