‘It was a gift’: Medically evacuated ‘Survivor 42’ contestant breaks down after being pulled from the game

In a “Survivor” first, a contestant was medically evacuated from the Season 42 premiere when he failed to disclose certain medical information until the day before shooting began. The castaway in question, Jackson Fox, admitted in a candid Q&A with host Jeff Probst that he didn’t mention his lithium usage because he was “trying to just quit it completely because I didn’t need it anymore.” He had been taking the drug for sleep and anxiety, and not because of his recent gender transition.

Jackson now becomes the 16th person in “Survivor” history to be pulled from the game due to medical reasons. That last such player was Pat Cusack in Season 37 (“David vs Goliath”), who was medevaced in that cycle’s first episode due to a back injury.

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“It’s a stigma,” Jackson revealed about the drug to Jeff during his final chat. “I’m a human to know the fears. Everyone hears the word ‘lithium’ and they go way back in time where they’re like, that was a huge drug back in the day. That was a scary drug to be on.” He reiterated that being a transgender man had nothing to do with it. “If that were the case, I would have been on lithium 20 years ago because I was so unhappy,” he confessed. “But that wasn’t the case. I took it for another reason. I started taking it when my mom [got sick] in 2016. The stress of it, I wasn’t sleeping.”

Jeff chimed in that it’s “not uncommon” for people to take the drug for that purpose. He also admitted he wasn’t going to mention the name of the drug on camera “out of respect” for Jackson, but Jackson was open and honest about how he needed help with certain things.

Since lithium has a reaction in people who are stressed, dehydrated, not eating, etc., the reality TV show had no choice but to pull him from the game just two days after initially setting foot in Fiji. Jeff stated, “The cumulative effect of this show would have a potentially very bad impact on you, and we don’t want that. Your safety is paramount. We can’t do it.”

Jackson broke down and sighed, “I get it. And I appreciate you talking to me about it. It’s weird that I’m getting emotional about it after 48 hours, [but] it is such an adventure. And I take this with love. I know that I’ll be friends with these people.” He concluded, “For someone who didn’t like anything about them for 40 years, then to have someone say people liked things about you that you didn’t know you were capable of, speaks volumes. It was the best 48 hours I’ve had ever.”

Jackson is a 48-year-old hospital transporter from Houston, Texas who previously auditioned to be on “Survivor” a decade ago, though as a woman. He was open about his transition to his fellow Taku tribe members: Lindsay Dolashewich, Maryanne Oketch, Marya Sherron, Jonathan Young and Omar Zaheer. When he ultimately said goodbye to his tribemates, the tears flowed in one of the show’s most emotional moments to date.

“It’s a journey that I was absolutely blessed to be able to go on,” Jackson noted in his exit interview. “I think it makes you stronger and more adaptable to what life will throw at you. So I think even if you don’t win a million dollars, you’ve won something that very few people can say they’ve done. It was a gift.”

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