Actress Francia Raisa, who donated a kidney last year to singer-actress Selena Gomez, recalls in a new online video the two friends’ fears about the procedure.
“From the minute I said ‘Of course I’ll get tested, obviously,’ it was like, ‘You’re my best friend, you’re my sister, of course.’ But, you know, I wasn’t educated on kidney surgery,” Raisa, 29, a cast member of the Freeform sitcom “Grown-ish,” says in a video interview for Self magazine. “There were times that I did panic,” she adds. “When I found out I was a match, it wasn’t the way I expected. One day, I got a phone call from Selena, a FaceTime and she’s like, ‘We’re a match!’ And I’m like, ‘Yayyyyy! Wha-aat?’ ”
Raisa did not respond immediately. “I had a way that I wanted to tell her when I made the decision,” she recalls. “I knew I was gonna have [the surgery, but] I just needed that time. And, like, it’s a big thing. So I hang up and I call my social worker and . . . she told me, ‘It’s gonna be hard. The recipient is gonna glow and she’s gonna recover a lot faster than the donor is because she’s receiving something she needs, you’re losing something you don’t need to lose. It’s gonna be hard.’ And it was very hard. Selena and I both went through a depression.”
It was equally so for Gomez, 25. “She had some complications with hers . . . I remember getting a text message from Selena saying, ‘I’m so scared I might die.’ And I was, like, ‘What?’ . . . That’s when she got the complication where the kidney turned and broke an artery and she had to go back in and they actually had to take a vein out of her leg, so she has a scar right here,” indicating the inside of her right thigh.
Ultimately, Raisa, 29, says, “My scars do not define me. My scars tell my story, and so I really appreciate these scars, because they honestly changed my life — not just, y’know, because of Selena, just me personally. Life came into perspective. I learned a lot.”
Gomez was diagnosed with lupus five years ago and revealed last September that she underwent the transplant surgery over the summer after the autoimmune disease started attacking her kidney. She has not commented on Raisa’s interview on social media.