The chance to help save the life of someone you hold close to your heart was more than just a coincidence for Francia Raisa. Her best friend may be one of the most successful artists of her age today, but the only thought that crossed Francia’s mind when she found out Selena Gomez needed a kidney was that she may lose her best friend. She came out with scars, endured a tough recovery, and even went through depression because of the decision she took. But she is grateful to have been able to save the life of one of her closest friends.
And the singer and actress has shown that she does know that what Francia did for her is a debt that can never be repaid.
Selena Gomez was diagnosed with lupus between 2012 and 2014, and why she hasn’t been extremely vocal about living with the auto-immune, the 27-year-old has opened up about it a few times.
“I guess I got to the point where it was really kind of life or death,” Gomez told Today. The complications that came with a condition called lupus, her kidneys were severely affected. She added, “My kidneys were just done. That was it and I didn’t want to ask a single person in my life.” The young singer was reluctant to seek a donor but she found one in her best friend.
Raisa was living with Gomez when she was told that she would need a transplant. “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,” the actress recalled while talking to Self. “One day, I got a call from Selena, a FaceTime, and she’s like, ‘We’re a match!’ And I’m like…’Yay! What? How do you know this? I had a way that I wanted to tell her when I made the decision. I knew it was going to happen, I just needed that time.”
Only then did she start understanding the gravity of the situation but she remained brave throughout the entire process. She recalled her social worker telling her, “It’s going to 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.”
Although it was difficult for both of them, Raisa is glad that she was able to donate her kidney in 2017, not only because it saved Gomez’s life but also because it changed hers for the better.
“It was a decision that was very faith-based and… she and I have talked about before,” Raisa told ET. “It just kinda happened coincidentally, but I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe that that’s God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
Raisa is also proud of the scars that it’s left her body with. “My scars do not define me,” she shared. “My scars tell my story. And so I really appreciate these scars because they honestly changed my life—not just, you know, because of Selena, just me, personally, life came into perspective. I learned a lot.”
When Gomez wrote about the kidney transplant on Instagram, she said, “…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”
Selena Gomez’ ongoing battle with lupus, though not highly publicized, has led to curiosity surrounding the disease. The singer has reportedly suffered panic attacks, anxiety and depression due to the condition, according to the Independent. “I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges,” the singer said.
While the understanding the auto-immune disease is still relatively low when compared to other diseases like cancer, its effects can often be quite severe, causing extreme fatigue and also severely affecting the patient’s mental health. For Gomez, when her condition got so worse that her life was literally in danger, her friend intervened and decided it wasn’t time for her to leave yet.
As for Raisa, who laid in a hospital bed right beside her best friend, both of them scared and nervous, she is glad for all that followed after that day. She wrote, “I am beyond grateful that God would trust me with something that not only saved a life, but changed mine in the process.”