Selena Gomez first opened up about her Lupus diagnosis in 2015. This auto-immune disease manifests itself in different ways, but for Gomez, it resulted in bouts of severe anxiety, arthritis, and kidney failure (among other symptoms). We know this after she revealed it all on her Instagram last month. She posted a photo of her and her friend Francia Rasia lying side-by-side in hospital beds after they underwent kidney transplant 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," Gomez wrote in the caption. "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."
The two just sat down for an exclusive NBC News interview, opening up about all of the stress, pain, and friendship it took to decide to undergo this kidney transplant process, not to mention recovering together afterward. Gomez wasn't shy, either, as she spoke transparently about her current health and happiness post-surgery.
In the interview, Gomez revealed that she was weeks away from experiencing total kidney failure. In fact, she would soon have to begin dialysis treatments. Meanwhile, her arthritis was so bad, that she couldn't do the everyday things that she once took for granted. Rasía actually found out about the severity of Gomez's condition after witnessing her inability to open a water bottle.
"One day she came home, and she was emotional. I hadn't asked anything. I knew that she hadn't been feeling well," Raísa said. "She couldn't open a water bottle one day and she chucked it and just started crying." Gomez then told her friend that she would have to wait for a kidney donation, even though the list was currently seven to 10 years long. That's seven to 10 years that Gomez would have to put her life on hold for active dialysis treatments. "And it just vomited out of me," Raísa said, "I was like, 'Of course I'll get tested.'"
The kidney was a match, so Raísa decided to give one to her ailing friend, after completing physical and psychological tests, undertaking the necessary paperwork, and even completing a will. "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 said. "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 a complication required a second six-hour surgery for Gomez, the two friends worked on healing, together. "For Gomez, though, she knew that the kidney had saved her life. "As soon as I got the kidney transplant, my arthritis went away," Gomez 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."
Since then, Gomez has been promoting her new music, filming new projects, and getting back to a normal, healthy lifestyle. We applaud her honesty. "I just hope that this inspires people to feel good. To know that there are really good people in the world," Gomez said. It's a good reminder to never take health for granted, and pleasure in that yoga or cycling class, your plate of nutritious food, and your self-care routine. Schedule time to alleviate stress and find gratitude, because it's not a chore; it's an investment in your health and happiness.