Singer and mega-pop-star Selena Gomez has always been pretty hushed when it comes to sharing her journey with lupus.
Aside from her unexpected break last fall, which she cited as a time to take care of her mental health, Selena is known for pushing through the challenges that come and go with her autoimmune disease.
But this summer proved to be different.
Selena had become gravely ill as complications from lupus led to an attack on her kidneys.
“I had arthritis. My kidneys were shutting down. My mentality was just to keep going,” she tearfully told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie.
Weeks away from dialysis, Selena desperately needed a new kidney but was admittedly ashamed to ask anyone she knew.
“The thought of asking somebody to do that was really difficult for me,” she said.
Luckily, she didn’t have to.
Selena’s roommate and close friend Francia Raísa could tell one afternoon that something wasn’t right.
“One day she came home, and she was emotional. I hadn’t asked anything. I knew that she hadn’t been feeling well,” Francia said in the interview. “She couldn’t open a water bottle one day and she chucked it and just started crying.”
It was in her time of frustration and fear that Selena revealed she needed a transplant.
“And she goes, ‘I don’t know what to do. The list is 7 to 10 years long,’” said Francia. “And it just vomited out of me. I was like, ‘Of course I’ll get tested.'”
After expediting a full process of blood and urine testing and a physical and psychological evaluation, Francia was unbelievably a match!
Though she admits to being fearful of how the kidney donation might affect her own health, Francia ultimately decided to have the surgery.
“I want to publicly thank my family and incredible team of doctors for everything they have done for me prior to and post-surgery,” Selena wrote in a September 14th Instagram post. “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.”
Though Selena credits Francia with saving her life, both women say their faith in God is what guided them through the emotional journey. And for Selena, the surgery has been life-changing.
“As soon as I got the kidney transplant, my arthritis went away,” Selena said. “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.”
She says she hopes their story will inspire others in knowing that there are really good people in the world.