Health & Wellness

Selena Gomez's best friend Francia Raisa opens up about donating kidney to save singer's life

The actress who donated a kidney to Selena Gomez is “beyond grateful” for the chance to save the life of such a close friend.

In an Instagram post Thursday, Gomez revealed she recently underwent a kidney transplant and thanked her donor and longtime friend, Francia Raisa, for providing her with “the ultimate gift and sacrifice."

Raisa also took to Instagram to post a heartfelt response.

“I am beyond grateful that God would trust me with something that not only saved a life, but changed mine in the process,” Raisa wrote, sharing the same photo Gomez posted of the pair lying in side-by-side hospital beds following the transplant surgery.

“This was part of our story, and we will share it soon, but what is important now is that this is not the only story,” Raisa said.

Gomez, 25, said her battle with lupus led to the transplant. The singer has treated the disease with chemotherapy in 2014. She also took time off last year to deal with anxiety, panic attacks and depression prompted by the disease.

Raisa, 29, said she considers Gomez family.

“Love you sis, so glad we’re on this journey together,” she said.

Raisa, who starred in the series, “Secret Life of the American Teenager” and, more recently, on “Dear White People," first met Gomez about a decade ago at a charity event organized by Disney and ABC Family.

"Selena and I were in the same group and we just clicked," she told Latina in a 2013.

There are two types of lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease. One form, discoid lupus, only affects the skin. Systemic lupus erythematosus, however, harms the skin, joints, kidneys and brain and may be fatal, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Systemic lupus causes the body’s autoimmune cells — the defense system which usually protects against disease — to to attack tissues and organs like the kidneys, triggering inflammation.

No one knows what actually causes lupus, but viral infection and environmental toxins seem to be some of the culprits being studied. It's most common in young and middle aged women, ages 19-60.

Up to 60 percent of people with lupus will develop kidney disease at some point in their lives.

In general, patients who undergo kidney transplants have higher survival rates compared to those who require dialysis, said rheumatologist Dr. Amit Saxena, director of lupus clinical trials at NYU Langone Health. "The major long-term risks are rejection of the transplant and complications from the immunosuppressive medications used to prevent failure, such as infections."

And the outlook is good for the singer's new kidney. Recurrence of lupus in a transplanted kidney is rare, Saxena said.

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