"Modern Family" star Sarah Hyland, who last year responded to accusations of anorexia by saying she had been undergoing unspecified health issues, revealed in an interview posted Monday that her body had rejected a kidney transplant.
"What most people don't know is that about two years ago exactly I went into rejection," Hyland, 28, says in an online video accompanying an interview in Self magazine. In 2012 she had explained that she suffered from the congenital condition kidney dysplasia, and had received a kidney donated by her father.
It remains unclear why that organ failed. "We did all of these tests and all of these treatments to try and save the kidney," Hyland recalls, "but [the doctors] basically said that the transplanted kidney was like a house that caught on fire. You can't unburn a house. So that's when it kind of sank in that this was a real issue. And that's when I started dialysis because everything just went kaput."
She began undergoing the critically needed procedure, in which a machine replicates kidney function, "three times a week for four hours per session," Hyland says. She began in February 2017, and around that July "found out that my brother [Ian] was a match." Hyland had her second transplant in September 2017.
"When a family member gives you a second chance at life and it fails, it almost feels like it's your fault. It's not. But it does," she says, later adding tearfully, "When a second family member, someone who you're supposed to look after, like a little brother, wants to give you [another] chance at life, it's scary. Because you don't want to fail them."
Her health issues mounted, however. She had surgery in May 2017 to remove the old kidney, and during it developed a hernia that went undiagnosed for a year and was exacerbated by a car accident. She also suffers from endometriosis, in which tissue normally lining the inside of the uterus grows outside it and can develop cysts and scar tissue, as well as adhesions that bind organs together.
"I was very depressed," Hyland says. "For a long time, I was contemplating suicide. I had gone through 26 years [by that time] of always being a burden, of always having to be looked after, having to be cared for."
But now, she says, expressing gratitude to her family, her friends and her boyfriend Wells Adams, a radio personality and former "Bachelorette" contestant: "I'm healed. My numbers are good. I'm stable."