Selena Gomez Opens Up About "Life or Death" Kidney Transplant
In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Gomez and her kidney donator and friend, Francia Raisa, share the story behind the procedure they underwent earlier this year.
Selena Gomez emotionally opened up about the secret kidney transplant that she underwent earlier this year in an exclusive interview with NBC News that aired on Monday's Today.
Speaking alongside her kidney donor and actress friend, Francia Raisa, Gomez detailed the health complications from lupus, an autoimmune disease that she was diagnosed with five years ago.
“I had arthritis. My kidneys were shutting down. My mentality was just to keep going,” Gomez explained to Savannah Guthrie.
Being only mere weeks from dialysis and in a life-threatening state of health, Gomez emotionally shared the news with her friend and roommate Raisa, feeling hopeless over her health circumstances.
"One day she came home, and she was emotional. I hadn't asked anything. I knew that she hadn't been feeling well,” the Grown-ish actress said. "She couldn't open a water bottle one day, and she chucked it and just started crying. And she goes, ‘I don't know what to do. The list is seven-to-10-years long."
Without hesitation, Raísa volunteered to get tested. The actress not only got her urine and blood tested, but also underwent a physical and psychological evaluation. The evaluation process normally takes six months to complete, but due to Gomez’s faltering health, Raisa completed tests within a day.
Raísa also had to write a will, out of precaution that she would not wake post-surgery, something her mom found difficult. “My mom didn’t want to be there until I woke up," she said. "My mom loves Selena. She was torn.”
Although Raísa was a match, Gomez revealed that she hadn’t wanted to ask anyone to be tested, because it was “difficult.”
“She lived with me in this interesting time where my kidneys were just done. That was it and I didn't want to ask a single person in my life,” Gomez emotionally explained. “The thought of asking somebody to do that was really difficult for me. And she volunteered and did it. … The fact that she was a match, I mean, that's unbelievable.”
After the surgery, Gomez recalled feeling fine after seeing her mom, stepdad and Raísa, until she began “hyperventilating” and feeling a lot of pain near her kidneys. Doctors had told her she had to go back into surgery because her new kidney was “turning around inside her body.”
“My teeth were grinding. I was freaking out," Gomez said. "It was a six-hour surgery that they had to do and the normal kidney process is two hours.”
During their recovery process, Gomez had gotten a place for her and Raisa to stay together. Their recovery consisted of strict bed rest, with walking being limited to less than an hour a day. “It was hard, because you constantly had to ask for help,” Raísa explained. “I think one of the most humbling experiences was helping put on underwear. We couldn’t take showers by ourselves. It was a really brutal process.”
A humbling experience for the both of them, Gomez credits Raisa for saving her life. "Because she did. That's it. I guess I got to the point where it was really kind of life or death.”
After recovery, Gomez shared that the surgery transformed her health, with there now being a 3-5 percent chance her diagnosed disease will return.
“As soon as I got the kidney transplant, my arthritis went away,” Gomez explained. “My lupus —there’s about a 3-5 percent chance it'll ever come back. My blood pressure is better. My energy, my life has been better."
In September, Gomez shared news of her kidney transplant in an Instagram post.
I’m very aware some of my fans had noticed I was laying low for part of the summer and questioning why I wasn’t promoting my new music, which I was extremely proud of. So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health. I honestly look forward to sharing with you, soon my journey through these past several months as I have always wanted to do with you. Until then I want to publicly thank my family and incredible team of doctors for everything they have done for me prior to and post-surgery. And finally, there aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis. Lupus continues to be very misunderstood but progress is being made. For more information regarding Lupus please go to the Lupus Research Alliance website: www.lupusresearch.org/ -by grace through faith
Watch the interview below.