Sarah Hyland: Why the ‘Modern Family’ Star Needed a Second Kidney Transplant

Sarah Hyland, who plays Haley Dunphy on Modern Family, recently discussed her need for a second kidney transplant back in 2017. The actress opened up in a recent interview about what went wrong, why she needed a new kidney, and how her recovery has been ever since.

Sarah Hyland
Sarah Hyland | Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

Hyland is best known for her role as Haley Dunphy in ‘Modern Family’

Hyland got her big break in Hollywood nearly 10 years ago when she landed the role of Haley Dunphy on Modern Family. The show follows several families, all related in some way, through the ups and downs that come with raising an imperfect family. Throughout the years, Hyland gained fame as the popular, attractive sister on the show; and on television, everything seemed perfect. But behind the scenes, Hyland was fighting a serious battle with her kidneys.

She was born with kidney dysplasia, and it gave her medical troubles during childhood

When Hyland was growing in the womb, her kidneys did not develop the way the rest of her body did. She was born with kidney dysplasia, which means her kidneys tend to grow cysts. The cysts prevent the kidneys from working properly (the kidneys must work properly in order to filter your blood). In some cases, only one kidney doesn’t work properly with kidney dysplasia. When that’s the case, people almost never see any problems. But for Hyland, it was both kidneys, and as she grew up, more and more problems began to arise.

Finally, at age 21, she needed a kidney, and her father donated one

Back in 2012, when Hyland was 21, doctors finally decided she needed a kidney transplant. Her father was a match, and he agreed to donate. In the public eye, all was said and done. However, kidney transplants are not guaranteed, and though the kidney would work for a while, it likely wouldn’t be permanent. Dr. Robert Montgomery, the director of the Transplant Institute at NYU Langone Health, told People that younger people who need transplants almost always need several more during their lifetime. This proved to be the case for Hyland.

She eventually began rejecting the kidney and needed a new one in 2017

In 2016, unbeknownst to the public, Hyland’s newest kidney began giving her trouble. The body started to reject it, since it saw it as a foreign object. Eventually, Hyland had to begin dialysis. In February 2017, she started going to the hospital for dialysis three times per week for four hours per session. (Dialysis is when your body hooks up to a machine, which filters your blood since your kidneys can’t.) But it became too much, and she eventually needed another transplant.

Her younger brother, Ian, was a match, and he agreed to donate a kidney to his big sister. “I only cared about Sarah knowing that I had her back and that she was going to be OK,” he told Self in an interview.

She has said her family and boyfriend have helped her greatly in her recovery

When Hyland realized she was taking another kidney from a family member, she felt very depressed. She was also scared to face another kidney rejection. She said the thought of going through the same thing, along with the thought of having to be so dependent on her family, made her contemplate suicide. But she talked things out with those close to her, and they helped her greatly during her recovery. Her relationship with boyfriend Wells Adams was very new at the time of her second transplant, but he has been there for her since. And she said she’s extremely thankful for her parents and brother, and for her dogs.

Hyland said the recovery process for both her and her brother has not been easy, but both of them are doing well (it’s been a little more than a year since the transplant). It’s a day by day process, but she’s happy to be feeling  better.

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