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The Daily Dish Below Deck Mediterranean

Kyle Viljoen Details "Traumatic" Medical Emergency and Shares an Update on His Recovery

The Below Deck Mediterranean cast member referred to his hospitalization as a "scary ride."

By Shannon Raphael

Kyle Viljoen is on the mend.

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The Below Deck Mediterranean stew — who is set to join the Mustique crew on Season 8 once his visa issues are resolved — opened up about a "scary" recent health issue that proved to be the "most painful" thing he's ever experienced. 

Find out what happened to the South Africa native and learn how he's recovering by scrolling below. Plus, see how other yachties in the Below Deck family reacted to Kyle's health update.

Kyle Viljoen's Health Scare

Kyle, who moved to New York City following Below Deck Mediterranean Season 7 (which is also where he met his now-fiancé, Dr. Zachary Riley), shared on Instagram on October 1 that he had just spent about a week going through a serious health matter. After experiencing severe throat pain, which ultimately spread to other parts of his body, he had been diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.

"Late Sunday night was the start to a scary ride for Zachary and I," he began in the caption of his Instagram post, which featured a photo of Kyle in a hospital bed, and several images of his mouth sores and hand blisters. "After starting a new medication I begin to feel generally unwell. Little did I know the battle I was going to face was the most painful and traumatic bodily experience of my life."

He went on to write that he began to feel "throat pain like none other" the day after his symptoms first began, and that it eventually "spread to [his] mouth, lips, hands, and feet." Kyle then visited a walk-in clinic, where he said he was diagnosed with hand, foot, and mouth disease.

Over the next two days, he said that he "suffered from worsening blisters, inability to tolerate swallowing, tongue swelling, and change in vision." When his condition didn't improve on Friday, he said that his fiancé took him to the emergency room. After getting what he referred to as a "head to toe" examination by multiple members of the medical staff, Kyle said that he received his Stevens-Johnson Syndrome diagnosis.

What is Stevens-Johnson Syndrome?

"Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a rare, serious disorder of the skin and mucus membranes. Treated as a medical emergency requiring hospitalization," Kyle described on Instagram. "Usually a reaction to certain medications that starts with flu-like symptoms, followed by a painful rash that spreads with bursting and oozing blisters. Then the top layer of affected skin dies [and] sheds..."

Kyle went on to point out that he was "working towards making a full recovery" thanks to "an impeccable medical staff, a loving fiancé, and [the] support of friends and family."

"Having eaten my first meal in [seven] days and finding that coconut milk helps with mouth blisters, I am over the moon with optimism and hope," he continued, before advising his followers to advocate for their health and treat their ailments and pain seriously.

His final piece of advice was to "try to always get through rough times with lots of love and even more laughs (even when they hurt)."

Kyle in his uniform in front of a stairwell.

Below Deck Yachties Send Messages of Support to Kyle Viljoen

Once Kyle shared his health post on Instagram, several cast members from Below Deck Mediterranean and Below Deck Down Under took to the comments section to send along their sympathy to the stew, and to wish him well on his journey. 

"My heart is so broken seeing you like this my love..." Kyle's Season 7 boss, Natasha Webb, commented. "We love you so dearly."

Chef Dave White added, "Ahhh man.. so much love pal! I wish you a speedy recovery, [Zachary] let me know if I can help in anyway!"

Below Deck Med Season 1 alum Julia D'Albert Pusey shared, "Gosh thinking of you! Sending love." Anastasia Surmava, who appeared on Season 4, said, "Love you so much my warrior."

"Someone get my man some coconut milk!!!" Culver Bradbury wrote. "Hope [you're] feeling better bud, sending good vibes your way."

Kyle's fiancé also shared a heartwarming message: "So proud of how strong you are. I love you till the days end, my warrior."

Any health-related information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, or before embarking on any diet, exercise, or wellness program.

Originally published Oct 2, 2023.

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