In 2017 Selena Gomez due to complications regarding her pre existing condition of Lupus which was diagnosed in 2013 underwent surgery for kidney transplantation. It is always unpredictable how long a new organ in the body will function as it is viewed as ‘foreign’ and the body’s immune system will fight to reject it. A regime of immunosuppressants and various medications are necessary to stop the rejection of the new organ. These medications however come with their own side effects and risks and as they weaken one’s immune system they leave recipients vulnerable to other illness and infection. Eventually despite these drugs the new kidney will cease to function to the degree it initially did and a second transplant will likely become necessary. No one can predict when this will occur, however many people will require more than one kidney transplant during a lifetime depending on their age when the first transplant occurs. As Gomez was only 25 when she received the life changing procedure it would seem highly unlikely that it would last for the rest of her life. However as Gomez received her new kidney from a ‘living donor’ her then best friend, Francia Raisa the odds are greatly improved for the longevity of the organ (10 – 13 years) as opposed to receiving a kidney from a deceased donor (7 – 9 years) The longest reported kidney transplant success was 60 years and an acute rejection can happen unfortunately very quickly after surgery. The longer you have the kidney the lower the risk of acute rejection however for the majority of patients rejection of the new kidney will occur at some stage.
HIGH ACHIEVER, STAR STUDDED LIFE AND PHILANTHROPIST
Born in 1992, the multi talented and beautiful Gomez has achieved a lot in her young life. Overcoming a challenging childhood brought up by her mother who left her father when she was only 16 and fraught with financial insecurity, she went on to appear in the children’s television show ‘Barney & Friends’ from 2002 to 2004. She simultaneously appeared on other shows including ‘The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.’ The show that propelled her into her successful singing career was ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ and in 2009 she released the pop album ‘Kiss and Tell.’ Her latest 2020 album Rare with the hauntingly beautiful ballad ‘Lose you to love me’ which when released on October 23rd, 2019 became Gomez’s first number one single in the US was greeted with critical acclaim. In the United States, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, earning 112,000 album-equivalent units in its first week. She has also won numerous awards and accolades and on top of her successful acting and singing careers she was named in August, 2009 as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund ‘UNICEFS’ youngest ambassador ever at age 17. She travelled on her first official field mission to Ghana on September 4, 2009 to witness the substandard conditions of the children there, that lacked vital necessities including fresh water, nourishing food, education and basic childcare. She was also involved with the charity ‘RAISE Hope For Congo’ who work to raise awareness about conflict minerals and violence against congolese women. ‘Disneys Friends for Change’ which promotes environmentally friendly behaviour was also supported by Gomez who also achieved the position of ambassador to the ‘Ryan Seacrest Foundation.’ This non profit organisation devotes itself to nurturing today’s youth through entertainment and education focused initiatives. Gomez seemed to have the perfect life, however the diagnosis of Lupus in 2015 with its various debilitating symptoms including high blood pressure and weight fluctuation which necessitated chemotherapy as a treatment took its toll and in August 2016 Gomez cancelled the remaining dates of her ‘Revival World Tour’ and checked herself into a treatment facility in Tennessee, stating that she was suffering from anxiety, depression and panic attacks as a consequence of her battle with Lupus a severe autoimmune and currently incurable disease. This serious condition causes the immune system to produce too many antibodies which can potentially attack healthy tissue resulting in inflammation, pain and damage. In Gomez’s case as with around half the people who contract Lupus, she suffered kidney inflammation as a direct result of her condition which can and did in her case lead to a condition called ‘lupus nephritis.’ Symptoms of ‘LN’ include joint pain, swelling and foamy urine and can lead in some cases to kidney failure. Gomezs decision to undergo a kidney transplant in 2017, saved her from the only other alternative which would have been dialysis which takes over the job of the failing kidney to purify the blood. Average life experience on dialysis is 5 to 10 years and the procedure is time consuming and must regularly be undertaken. A kidney transplant in the face of kidney failure is the optimal treatment if the patient is healthy enough to withstand the operation and most imperatively if a matching donor can be found.
DONATING A KIDNEY IS A SELFLESS AND LIFE SAVING GESTURE
Gomez has expressed her gratitude and love for the woman that underwent a risky medical operation to give her the gift of a kidney. She also stated that she ‘could have died’ following the operation and that recovery for the both of them was challenging. Kidney donor, Francia Raisa, Gomez’s best friend, has said: ‘I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want to drink anything.’ Gomez herself revealed that a complication where one of her kidneys ‘had flipped inside her body’ extended her surgery for six hours instead of the normal two hours a kidney transplant takes. Raisa shared that they kept their arduous recoveries from the intrusive surgery quiet ‘We didn’t want to tell anybody because recovery was very hard for us, and we went through a depression at the time. We kind of just wanted to be normal and not have that attention on us.’
MOVING FORWARD FULL OF CONFIDENCE
Although Gomez says she was always reticent about publicly showing off the scars from her kidney transplant, she confidently flaunted them in a recent, empowering instagram post. ‘Now more than ever, I feel confident in who I am and what I went through.’ she announced. She confided that this was not always the case and that previously she strove to cover the scars which were necessitated by the life saving procedure she endured. This positive display is empowering to others who have gone through similar experiences and encourages women to embrace their scars as proof that they can endure difficult situations and survive, to emerge stronger than they previously were and to be proud that they had the strength and courage to survive. She herself is pragmatic about her experiences, ‘I feel like I was supposed to go through everything I’ve gone through.’ Gomez said. No one can predict how long Gomezs or anyones kidney transplant will last. What Gomez shows us all is that no matter who we are, we can be affected by gruelling conditions in life that can test our faith and resolve. The way we handle these situations can make or break us. We need to look forward with hope and optimism. Anyone looking for inspiration in handling a difficult situation can look to Gomez who despite her many health setbacks at a young age moves forward with gratitude and joy for what is to come and not what was.