In his exit interviews this week, Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance cast member Terry Deitz gave lots of details about what happened after he exited the game because of his son Danny’s health.
From host and executive producer Jeff Probst breaking the news in the middle of the night—20 minutes after the show’s production office first got the call—to Terry’s future Survivor plans, here’s everything you should know:
- Before Terry even left for Survivor, there were signs of Danny’s condition that were dismissed or attributed to other things. Terry told Xfinity’s Gordon Holmes that the day before he left he was throwing a ball with Danny and his son told him, “‘I’m a little short of breath.’ I’m like, ‘Don’t worry about it. You’re probably out of shape from lacrosse or whatever.’ Two days after I left, everything in his system started breaking down. He was throwing up. Cold, they thought he had bronchitis.”
- Eventually, doctors discovered Danny’s heart had an ejection fraction of eight percent (the norm is 55 to 70 percent) and diagnosed him with dilated cardiomyopathy.
- When Probst woke him up, Terry’s initial reaction was that he thought something happened to his mother or mother-in-law, who are both 85. But when Probst said “Danny,” Terry told People, “I thought, ‘Oh, my God.’ He had just gotten his license; did he get in a car crash? I was so afraid that I was going to hear the word D-E-A-D. It was the worst moment of my life,” he said.
- Terry said in several interviews that health care privacy laws meant that Probst didn’t know what was specifically wrong with Danny.
- After the cameras turned off and Terry was on the boat with Probst, he used Probst’s phone not just to call his family, but to see them: “We FaceTimed, but it was really halting. I got to see Trish’s face and Danny’s face, but I still didn’t know the extent of things,” he told People.
- Jeff Probst gave his hat for Terry to give to Danny.
- The show’s psychologist, Dr. Eliza, and Probst both told Terry he’d been successful at the game. “On the boat back, Dr. Eliza and Jeff go, ‘So, Terry, I know you really don’t want to talk about the game much, but you said you were gonna do two things when you came out here: prove yourself in the challenges and develop social or strategic game, and, in two weeks, you did both of the things you came here to do.’ And I was like, ‘Woah,'” he told CBS.com
- Terry took two planes home: first to Hong Kong, and then to Boston, a 16-hour flight. First he was driven four hours to Phnom Penh. He had “two hours in a hotel to get cleaned up” before that, he told People.
- The show’s psychologist flew with him to Boston.
- The show had a limo waiting for Terry in Boston to take him to Boston Children’s Hospital, he told Xfinity’s Gordon Holmes.
- During the rest of the season, Terry told Xfinity, “Jeff was constantly in touch while he was producing the show.”
- While Danny was initially in the hospital for 39 days—coincidentally the exact same amount of time that one season of Survivor takes to film—he returned for several procedures, including the transplant. Terry told Xfinity, “My wife and I have had 79 days in the hospital.”
- Gordon Holmes asked Terry about what a lot of us have been thinking: If Danny would join Terry on a future Blood vs. Water season of Survivor. Terry pointed out that it may not be a possibility because of Danny’s heart and health, never mind his current age: “He’s only seventeen, so it’d be a couple of years. But even then, it’d be a reach. He’ll never be 100%. But, you never know,” he said.
- Danny is recovering and doing physical therapy. However, his immune system is being suppressed with drugs so his body doesn’t reject the new heart, and that means he can’t go to school and has to be careful in other situations. For example, Terry told CBS.com that at “Friday night football games he’s gotta stay away from everybody on the sidelines out on the field and wear a mask and all that stuff because his immunity is just kind of gone right now. But he’s really doing well and getting back into the swing of things.”
- Terry works as a pilot for American Airlines, flying Boeing 777s, and told CBS.com, “I hope to see my fans on one of my airplanes flying around the country or flying around the world. I’m actually flying to Milan tonight, so maybe I’ll see somebody who watched me on TV last night. Who knows? That’s always fun.”
- Terry and Trish Deitz have started The Danny Strong Fund to “support the priorities of the Boston Children’s Hospital Heart Center including research around cardiomyopathy and other congenital heart diseases, the extraordinary needs of patient families, and education of staff and patient families.”
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