Schoolgirl nearly killed by toxic shock syndrome after wearing a tampon for 10 hours
05/05/2017 // Frances Bloomfield // Views

Molly Pawlett, a 14-year old schoolgirl, woke up one day feeling unwell. She thought she had simply come down with a common illness. When her mother noticed a red rash spreading over the teenager's body, the 39-year old Sonia Pawlett asked Molly Pawlett to remove her tampon. She was then rushed to the emergency department of their local hospital. Doctors found out that Molly Pawlett's organs were already shutting down, triggering sepsis, and prompting doctors to move her to the high-dependency unit. There, they were finally able to diagnose her with toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare but life-threatening infection often caused by wearing a tampon for too long.

The young resident of Daventry, Northamptonshire has since been released and is continuing recovery at home. Now, Sonia Pawlett wishes to educate other parents on the symptoms of the illness, reports the

“At first I assumed Molly had a bug, but for some reason I had strange feeling it was something more serious. That’s when I asked Molly if she was wearing a tampon, which she was. She removed it straight away, but by this point she had been wearing it for 10 hours and it was already too late,” said Sonia Pawlett, a carer. “Because I acted so quickly, and she removed the tampon when she did, she was one of the lucky ones. If we hadn't of taken her to the hospital when we did then it could have been fatal.”

During her stay in the hospital, Molly Pawlett developed a red tongue and sore mouth -- two warning signs of TSS. Her kidneys then began to fail and her body entered toxic shock. According to Sonia Pawlett, her daughter was then placed on medication to stabilize her condition. The daughter's condition was monitored every half-hour. “Molly's doctor admitted this was the first case she had treated before but their care was amazing and they saved her life.” Sonia Pawlett told the


Of her experience, Molly Pawlett has said: “I never thought this would happen to me, I usually wear a tampon and so do my friends at school, so I was completely shocked and didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. At first I thought it was just a bug, but when I didn’t start to feel better I got really worried especially when I was taken to hospital. I really want to encourage other girls not to leave tampons in for longer than eight hours, thankfully I pulled through but others might not be as lucky.” (Related: Teenage girl dies of Toxic Shock Syndrome after doctors mistook illness for Norovirus)

According to, TSS is caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus entering your bloodstream and releasing deadly toxins. This condition affects major organs in the body and, if left untreated, can lead to liver, kidney, or heart failure. While anyone can contract TSS, menstruating women who wear super-absorbent tampons are at greater risk. Experts are still unsure why this happens, but some speculate that a tampon that's been left in place for a long time attracts the bacteria.

Apart from a very sore mouth and red tongue, the other symptoms of TSS include:

  • Widespread, red skin rash
  • Diarrhea
  • A high temperature of 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit or above
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty breathing

TSS is a medical emergency that may require patients to stay in the intensive care unit. One method of treating the condition is through an intravenous (IV) antibiotic to fight the infection. Other possible treatments can include medication to stabilize blood pressure and gamma globulin injections.

Find out more about TSS and other medical conditions by visiting

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