Exclusive: 'Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance's Terry Deitz talks son Danny's medical emergency
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/29/2015
Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance lost Terry Deitz to a family emergency before three tribes switched up into two and the new Ta Keo tribe gave Yung "Woo" Hwang the boot.
Terry, who previously competed on Survivor: Panama, was woken up in the middle of Night 13 by host Jeff Probst, who arrived with news his son Danny was in the hospital and his situation was serious enough that doctors and Terry's wife wanted him to come home immediately.
At the end of Wednesday night's episode, Survivor aired a clip of how Danny has since undergone a successful heart transplant and is currently doing great.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Terry opened up about his son's medical emergency and how it all unfolded. Below is what he had to say. Check back with us soon for the portion of Terry's interview in which he talks about his experience on the show.
Reality TV World: As we saw last night, your son received a heart transplant. I'm so glad he's doing well now. Just to clarify, when did you first become aware of your son's condition. Did you know about it before entering the game?
Reality TV World: It seemed like when your wife called, you didn't seem that surprised.
Terry Deitz: Right. I did not. As we look back on it, you know, even his pediatrician is like, "Oh my God, how did I miss that?" It's similar to stories you hear about athletes getting the enlarged heart and then falling down on the field and never getting up. And Danny was probably one game away from that happening -- not even one game away. He was there.
And my wife basically took him off the Lacrosse team, and this was all happening after I left, and then things really started presenting themselves. The heart was failing, he was getting sick to his stomach. They thought he had bronchitis, he was getting fluid in his lungs, his kidneys and liver were starting to not perform properly.
His whole body stopped compensating and things were breaking down to the point where they got him an X-Ray and the guy goes, "Well, your lungs are clear but you have an enlarged heart." A couple of days later, my wife got an Echocardiogram on him and the doctor basically ran back in with the results and said, "Listen Deitz, you're not going on vacation. I just called 9-1-1. There's an ambulance on the way."
And as he's saying this, my wife hears the sirens and they take him to Hartford's emergency room and they're like, "You need to go to Boston Children's Hospital. You're stable enough to go in an ambulance. We don't need the helicopter. But you need to go right now."
And my wife and Danny had just eaten lunch at Panera! My wife was like, "This is crazy! This is my son. He's walking around; He's fine!"
"Ma'am, he's on the edge of dying right now." So they got him to Boston Children's and they stabilized him, and then the following morning, they had a consult with the doctors who basically said, "Yeah, Mr. Deitz needs to come home." And I don't know if you have family or not, but it's kind of what backs us up.
[Andrew Savage] said the same thing. You know, when they had the challenge the next day, he said, "Family is everything to us." It's what helped me through the firstSurvivor, it's what got me through 10 years of waiting to get into this Survivor. And without it, it's game over.
So it was immediately come home and try to get your son a second chance at life, and it was just touch and go for a couple of months. And anyway, he's healthy. He's sitting in the other room watching TV right now. It's an awesome, awesome thing.
Reality TV World: Was Probst the first one to tell you about your son's heart condition on the beach and fans just didn't see it or I read you got to talk to your son...
Terry Deitz: Right. So we didn't really know anything. I left, I go out there, my wife is handling weeks of my son just totally breaking down physically. And they got him to the hospital, they call. [Survivor casting producer] Lynne Spillman called Jeff through that emergency line thing, and with the rules and everything else, he doesn't have a lot to go on either and he can't tell me more on-camera.
So basically, I'm thinking as we're walking down the beach, "It's my wife or it's my mom or my mother-in-law because they're both old," and then he mentions Danny and I'm thinking, "Oh my God! He just started driving? Did he get in a car crash or what?!" So all I knew was the condition was very bad and they needed me to come home.
So basically, I said goodbye to everybody in the shelter and, as you saw, it was very hard on [Kass McQuillen] and [Ciera Eastin] because they have little kids at home. And we put a lot on the line with our families when we go out and do this stuff, and at that moment, it's all about thinking about your family and real life.
So Jeff basically found out more right when we left the beach. He handed me his phone, I get on the line, and I'm actually FaceTiming [my wife] Trish, Danny and my daughter Kayla. I got to see their faces. It was sort of all things considered until we got back to base camp and I could just talk to them on the phone.
So, I didn't feel Jeff knew as much as I did at the time and then as I planes, trains and automobiles. Myself and the company psychologist went all the way to Boston and there was a limo waiting for us at the airport and we just rushed over to Boston Children's. That's when I started getting filled in on how bad my son's condition was and that a heart transplant was one of the options.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the portion of Terry's interview in which he talks about his Survivor experience.