As Dancing With the Stars heads into its double elimination night, contestant Jeannie Mai has been forced to leave the show. In a statement to Good Morning America, the TV talk show co-host announced that she was hospitalized with epiglottitis, a potentially life-threatening inflammatory condition. As a result of her hospitalization, she will no longer be able to compete in Season 29 of the ABC dancing competition alongside pro partner Brandon Armstrong.
"My doctors discovered a health concern with my throat which requires immediate attention and surgery," Mai revealed. "I am heartbroken that my DWTS journey has to end here. I have pushed myself to new limits physically and mentally, and I am so proud of how far we've come."
What is Epiglottitis?
Epiglottitis is a swelling that occurs in the windpipe – a condition can is considered life-threatening. According to the Mayo Clinic, a small "lid" that covers your windpipe called the epiglottis gets enlarged. This, in turn, blocks airflow to the lungs.
The condition can be triggered by a number of causes from injury to or burns on a person's throat and sometimes from infection. The Mayo Clinic notes that epiglottitis can happen at any age. In children, it's most often a result of infections of the bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis.
What Happens Next for Dancing With the Stars?
Mai's abrupt departure from the series comes just ahead of Dancing With the Stars’ dreaded double elimination night. During last week's episode, host Tyra Banks announced that two couples, instead of just one, would be headed home during the Monday, Nov. 2 episode. Banks, who also revealed that the couples would perform two dances during the episode, said, "Next Monday night, not one, but two couples will go home in a double elimination… It is going to be so intense. There's a lot of pressure for them. You guys have to see this."
According to journalist Kristyn Burtt, as a result of Mai’s forced exit, Monday night's episode will only feature a single elimination. Burtt reports that the remaining couples will still perform two dances and the "relay dance will go on as planned." The Viennese Waltz group, meanwhile, will only feature two couples – Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart and Justina Machado and Sasha Farber.
Mai and Armstrong had been set to perform the Charleston to "Shout" by The Isley Brothers during Monday’s all-new episode, with their competitors set to perform jives, salsa, and sambas. The nine remaining pairs were also slated to be split into three relay groups — cha-cha, samba or Viennese waltz. As Burtt reported, much of the night will go on as planned, aside from the routines from Mai and Armstrong.
In their own statement, Dancing With the Stars praised Mai as a competitor who has "inspired us, along with millions of fans, with her energy and dedication." Wishing her a "speedy recovery," the series confirmed that Mai "had to withdraw from the competition" and that "tonight's show will feature the eight remaining couples and a single elimination."
Through the first six weeks of the show, five couples have been sent home. Those celebrities eliminated include Vernon Davis, Jesse Metcalfe, Anne Heche, Carole Baskin, and Charles Oakley. Monica Aldama, Kaitlyn Bristowe, Skai Jackson, Justina Machado, AJ McLean, Nelly, Nev Schulman, Chrishell Stause, and Weir are still competing.