Sammy Nickalls
January 21, 2016 10:42 am

Every woman who gets her period has been warned of TSS —Toxic Shock Syndrome,a very serious, life-threatening bacterial infection. But rarely do we witness actual, real-life cases of it. Until now.

Rylie Whitten, 15, became ill over two weeks ago with what was thought to be the flu. “She’s young, healthy, never had any medical problems whatsoever. She was lying in bed,” her father, Nate, told WZZM-TV. “All the sudden, she was moaning. This is not Rylie at all.” It turned out that Rylie had contracted TSS.

In fact, it turned out that Rylie had an infection that led to one of the worst cases of toxic shock syndrome that doctors in West Michigan had ever witnessed. She was put on intensive life support. 

Up to half the cases of TSS can be fatal, and Rylie’s life has been hanging in the balance for weeks. Her case was determined to be the result of a high-absorbency tampon. . . even though she was using it correctly.

“She is definitely the sickest toxic shock syndrome patient I have ever taken care of,” Dr. Rajasekaran told HealthBeat.

“[TSS] took over all of her major organs and shut them down,” Nate told People. “We’re so lucky we caught it when we did, otherwise she wouldn’t be with us.”

A Facebook group called “Prayers for Rylie” now has over 3,000 members, with hundreds commenting to express their support and send well wishes to the Whitten family, as well as offer help if they may need it. Members of the community have held a prayer vigil at the local church and a half-time show at her high school — where she is a member of the dance team — all dedicated to her.

Although Rylie’s future looked grim, she held on strong, and she’s now expected to make a full recovery. “Right now she’s completely off the ventilator – she’s breathing on her own – and her heart is beating on its own,” Nate told People.

“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.”

She’ll need to undergo intensive physical and occupational therapy, but the Whitten family is just relieved that their daughter made it through. The one thing Nate hopes people will get out of this experience is increased awareness of TSS.

“Educate yourself,” he told People. “Take 10 minutes and read about it. Be aware of it.”

Read up about toxic shock syndrome here, and learn about its symptoms and preventative measure you can take.

(Images via Facebook, Twitter)