The 1 Thing Selena Gomez Wants Us to Know About Her Kidney Transplant

Superstar Selena Gomez has made headlines many times since her decade-old career breakthrough on the Disney Channel. From her amazing singing and acting career to her troubled former relationship with Justin Bieber, Gomez knows what it means to grow up in the public eye.

But in recent years, she’s made the news for something else: Her physical and mental health. And in mid-September, she revealed to the world she had a kidney transplant over the summer.

The announcement

Selena Gomez sitting in front of a microphone during an interview.

Selena Gomez quietly battled a serious illness in the prime of her career. | Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Many diehard Selena Gomez fans noticed that she was staying out of the limelight over the summer, despite releasing new music and her appearance on the cover of Vogue. Gomez made the announcement herself, last Thursday, that she’d spent most of the summer recovering from a kidney transplant. Despite knowing about her medical issues, some of her fans were shocked.

The ultimate gift

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

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Perhaps the only thing more noteworthy than the transplant announcement itself was the photo Gomez posted. It showed her lying in a hospital bed next to her friend as the two smiled at each other and held hands. Gomez announced that it was her dear friend, Francia Raisa, who donated her kidney.

“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,” Gomez wrote in her heartwarming tribute.

The reason for the transplant

Selena Gomez sings on stage as her hair is blowing in the wind.

The singer has battled emotional and physical problems while in the spotlight. | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Gomez has been open in the past about her struggles with Lupus, she announced her diagnosis back in 2015. Not only has she been through chemotherapy due to her illness, she’s dealt with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks as brutal side effects.

And, as she announced on her Instagram, it was her lupus that led to her needing the recent kidney transplant.

How lupus leads to a kidney transplant

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Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack healthy cells and tissues in the body, rather than attacking foreign substances like it should. Needless to say, this can lead to damage in many parts of the body, especially the heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys.

According to medical experts, 60-90% of lupus patients have trouble with their kidneys. Dr. Naveed N. Masani, a nephrologist, says that the kidneys are “kind of prime real estate” for the combination of the body attacking itself and the products they make. The kidneys are our natural filters, and in lupus patients, they can accumulate waste buildup and are more susceptible to damage.

Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for kidney function to decline to the point of needing a transplant, like Gomez did.

Selena’s mother speaks out

Selena Gomez stands with her mother at a red carpet event.

Selena’s mom has been with her every step of the way. | Pascal Le Segretain/iStock/Getty Images

Lupus isn’t just a difficult diagnosis for the patient. It is heartbreaking to watch someone you love go through so much pain and fatigue. And no one knows that better than Gomez’s mother, Mandy Teefey.

On Monday, Sept. 18, Mandy Teefey shared an emotional post on her production company’s Instagram page, describing feeling helpless and scared as her daughter underwent surgery. “For all those moments of not knowing if we were going up or going down, I can always come back to this picture and know we can always make it back up,” Teefey said, referring to the photo Gomez had posted of her and Raisa.

What Selena Gomez wants us to know

Gomez kept her diagnosis a secret for several years. When asked why she decided to go public, she said it was time to use her platform to help.

And not only has Gomez brought awareness to lupus by being upfront about her diagnosis, she has also raised quite a bit of money for the cause. Earlier this year, she partnered with the Keck School of Medicine of USC to support lupus research and created the Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research. Gomez has also donated her money multiple times, including recently, when she donated a portion of sales from her last concert tour to LupusResearch.org.

The mystery of lupus

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Celebrities drawing more attention to lupus helps fund more research for a disease’s cause and treatment options. Although lupus is believed to be caused by a combination of factors including hormones, genetics, and environment, its direct cause still remains unclear. And since there is no cure, early diagnosis is the key to developing a treatment plan.