Last month, Selena Gomez and Francia Raísa let fans in on a major secret: both had undergone separate surgical procedures in order to save Gomez’s life. The two shared pictures related to the procedures on Instagram, but didn’t go in depth about the full story, until now. In an interview with Savannah Guthrie of the “TODAY” Show, Gomez and Raísa finally sat down together to share the full story behind the surgery that saved Gomez’s life.
According to Raísa, as soon as she learned what Gomez needed, she knew exactly what she was going to do.
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
Gomez has been open about her struggle with Lupus, an autoimmune disorder, in the past. In 2016, the “Fetish” singer explained to fans that she’d be canceling the remaining dates of her concert tour to address the anxiety and depression she was dealing with related to the disease. Nearly a year later, her disorder posed a life threatening situation. Her immune system began to target her kidneys.
“One day she came home and she was emotional. I hadn’t asked anything. I knew that she hadn’t been feeling well,” Raísa tells Guthrie about her friend. “She couldn’t open a water bottle one day. She chucked it and just started crying and I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ That’s when she told me. She goes, ‘I don’t know what to do. The list is 7 to 10 years long.’ It just vomited out of me, like ‘Of course I’ll get tested.’ I called her assistant and I said, ‘Give me the information. I want to do this.'”
Raísa further explained that Gomez’s condition had swiftly become an extreme health detriment and the process to donate her kidney became a race. The urgency of the situation meant Raísa had to do “everything in a day” even though “usually the process takes six months.”
For Raísa, the decision to help her friend was obvious, but it did not come without concerns.
“I had to write a will, which was scary, because there’s no guarantee you’ll wake up,” Raísa said, explaining how her family felt conflicted with her decision. “My mom didn’t want to be there until after I woke up. She loves Selena so she was torn.”
Before the transplant, Gomez knew she wanted to make the most of her time with her friend.
“I wanted us to feel good so our friend came over and did cute little French braids for us,” Gomez tells Guthrie in the interview.
“We couldn’t eat after midnight so we stuffed our faces,” Raísa says adding, “[We ordered] way too much food.”
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Gomez, who experienced a complication with her surgery.
Post transplant surgery, Gomez explained that she went to her hospital room and attempted to sleep, but that’s when things got scary. The 25-year-old singer began to experience severe pain and started hyperventilating as she tried to fall asleep. She was eventually rushed into emergency surgery after doctors discovered part of the donated kidney had “flipped” inside of her. She was ultimately able to recover from the six-hour emergency procedure that she says typically takes two.
“My teeth were grinding. I was freaking out,” Gomez told Guthrie. “Apparently one of the arteries had flipped. I’m very thankful that there are people that know what to do in that situation.”
Raísa and Gomez hope their story gives others hope.
“My arthritis went away. My lupus has about a 3 to 5 percent chance that it’ll ever come back. My blood pressure is better. My energy, my life has been better,” Gomez told Guthrie through tears. “I just really hope that we can help somebody. I really do. I don’t think that what we went through is easy. I don’t think it was fun. I just hope that this inspires people to feel good and to know that there are really good people in the world.”
Watch the interview below: