Survivor NZ: teen contestant Louisa McClintock had to choose between her health or the game
Louisa McClintock's family didn't know where she was, until television producers called the teenager's family to tell them she was sick in the Nicaraguan jungle.
McClintock liked to think she was in with a chance on Survivor, but the Cheviot teen had to make a choice between her health and a game. She chose her health.
The 19-year-old fell ill with a debilitating infection that left her unable to eat or walk. She started slipping in and out of consciousness only to wake up to dry-retch into the sand, her tribe mates said.
McClintock was taken to a local hospital overnight, where she received treatment before being flown back home. The teenage farmer, who lives with her grandfather and colleague Joe, hadn't even told her family she was off to compete on Survivor. It came as a surprise when television producers called to tell her family that their daughter had been hospitalised in Central America.
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The last time her tribe and viewers of the show saw McClintock, she was being loaded into the back of a van. Survivor New Zealand's medical officer, Robert Gibson, had made the call to evacuate her for diagnosis and monitoring in hospital.
McClintock wouldn't say what exactly had hit her, but said a "bacterial infection" made her leave the show.
"I wasn't in any state to be going back on the show, I was severely sick, my body wasn't happy or cooperating with myself. If I went back on the show, I would have been pulled off the next day," she said.
McClintock wasn't the only contestant to become ill while filming Survivor NZ. Hannah Gough, 27, spent three weeks in hospital in Nicaragua after a bug climbed into her ear. The model and teacher was kicked off the show, after being voted off early and losing a survival challenge, but couldn't return home to New Zealand because of her medical condition.
The virus hit quickly, she said. The day before leaving Survivor, McClintock had been feeling slightly faint and queasy, but overnight it took hold. Her tribe mates stayed awake, taking turns to check on her overnight, McClintock said.
She was sent back to New Zealand, where she stayed in hospital for a few days to receive further blood tests and treatment. Her mother, who was unaware that McClintock had been in Nicaragua, met her in hospital.
Her mother has agreed to hold back the questions until McClintock returned to good health, she said.
Before leaving for the jungle, McClintock told her family she was "off on an OE, just on an overseas experience. I've always wanted to go to Canada, always wanted to, I never said where".
Since getting back to New Zealand, McClintock had decided she wanted to keep travelling. She and her friend Joanna Hewson were looking to go on a road trip around the North Island with their farm dogs. They hoped to vlog their journey around North Island farms as they explored the island.
McClintock thanked her tribe and the Survivor medical team and series producer Tim Lawry for looking after her. Lawry and Gibson stayed with her at the hospital as they worked out was was wrong. "There was no one better to be looking after you," she said.