Sarah Hyland Opens Up About Health Struggles, Suicidal Thoughts
"I'm so grateful for my entire family, especially my brother, especially my dad, especially my mom," the 'Modern Family' star told Self magazine about her support system following multiple health problems.
Sarah Hyland opened up about her second kidney transplant, dialysis and suicidal thoughts in an interview with Self, published on Monday.
The Modern Family actress has been forthcoming about her health struggles and battle with kidney dysplasia in the past. The condition means that her kidneys did not develop properly when she was in the womb and they regularly formed painful cysts. Her first kidney transplant was in 2012 when she was 21. Her father donated the organ to her.
Hyland revealed that her body began to reject the kidney in October 2016. “We did all of these tests and all of these treatments to try and save the kidney,” she told the magazine. “Christmas break, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, my birthday, all of that spent in the hospital.”
None of the treatments worked and her medical team described her body's reaction to the kidney as like that of a house that has caught on fire. "You can't un-burn a house," said Hyland.
She started to regularly undergo dialysis, which is a temporary treatment in which a machine does the job of the kidney and filters blood in and out. The process required a tube to be put in her chest and led to severe weight loss.
Doctors removed Hyland's transplanted kidney in May 2017. Her younger brother Ian offered to donate his kidney and while he was a match, she felt conflicted about the idea.
“I was very depressed,” she said. “When a family member gives you a second chance at life, and it fails, it almost feels like it’s your fault. It’s not. But it does. For a long time, I was contemplating suicide, because I didn’t want to fail my little brother like I failed my dad.”
Hyland said that the lack of control she had over her own body made her feel helpless. “I had gone through [my whole life] of always being a burden, of always having to be looked after, having to be cared for,” said the actress.
Hyland said that talking to someone close to her about her suicidal thoughts helped. “It’s not shameful,” she said. “For anybody that wants to reach out to somebody but doesn’t really know how because they’re too proud or they think that they’ll be looked upon as weak, it’s not a shameful thing to say. It’s not a shameful thing to share.”
Hyland had her second transplant in September of last year. The actress credited her dogs, work, family and boyfriend for helping her through the stress and emotional turbulence that went along with her health problems. “My work is my therapy. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my work,” she said.
"I'm so grateful for my entire family, especially my brother, especially my dad, especially my mom," Hyland continued about her support system.
The actress revealed that she first met her boyfriend, radio DJ and former Bachelorette contestant Wells Adams, three days before her second transplant. “He was texting me in the morning before I went into surgery, and we were FaceTiming the entire time I was in the hospital," she said.
Hyland shared that Adams was also there for her throughout the recovery process. "He's seen me at my worst,” she said. “I think that's why I feel the most beautiful in his eyes, because he still finds me beautiful after seeing all that.”
While her recovery from the surgery went smoothly, Hyland had to deal with other health conditions. She also has endometriosis — a chronic reproductive health condition — and developed an abdominal hernia.
Hyland said that she was still in "severe pain" following the transplant, which was due to the endometriosis and hernia. The health problems led to more surgeries, of which she has had six in the past 16 months. One was a laparoscopic surgery for the endometriosis, and another was a hernia repair surgery.
“Laparoscopic [surgery is] one of the most painful things I’ve ever been through in my life,” Hyland said. She added that the endometriosis pain doesn’t really go away. “[This week] I’ve had a flare-up with my endo. It has been hard to stand up straight, let alone work. The fetal position helps a lot.”