Selena Gomez Talks Kidney Surgery & The Life-Threatening Complications: I Knew I Could ‘Actually Die’

Nearly three years after undergoing a secret kidney transplant, Selena Gomez has spoken about the ‘scary’ complications that happened afterward, and how close she came to dying.

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Image Credit: Courtesy of Lachlan Bailey for WSJ. Magazine

“The lupus was a huge thing that happened to me,” Selena Gomez, 27, says when speaking with WSJ. Magazine about her health problems, which the publication describes as “Elizabeth Taylor-esque” in scale. Selena’s battle with lupus is well documented, and it resulted in her undergoing a kidney transplant in the summer of 2017. What she reveals to WSJ. Magazine is that she came close to losing her life. “Then the kidney thing happened, and that was the scariest because, yeah, you could actually die. The moment I came out [of the two-hour surgery], I remember starting to shake and my mom screaming and then being put back under.”

There were complications involving Selena’s new kidney, donated by BFF Francia Raisa. As the grown-ish star revealed in a 2018 interview, Selena’s kidney was “very active,” but when it turned, she “broke an artery.” Due to this development, Selena was put back under and rushed into emergency surgery. The procedure lasted seven hours, and doctors replaced the broken artery with one taken from her legs. Thankfully, the operation was a success, giving Selena a new lease on life. “That’s what makes you go, ‘You know what, I’m just so happy to be alive,” she told WSL. Magazine.

To reminder her to be grateful for this second chance, she’s taped Bible verses and quotes around her house. “I don’t consider myself religious,” said Selena, who grew up Catholic and, for a time, attended Hillsong Church, a congregation popular with celebrities (including her ex, Justin Bieber.) “It’s about my faith and my connection to God. It’s not something I talk about a lot.”

Courtesy of Lachlan Bailey for WSJ. Magazine

While Selena’s fans have been well-aware of her lifelong battle with Lupus, she surprised them – and the rest of the world – when she announced in September 2017 that she had undergone the secret kidney transplant. “I’m very aware some of my fans had noticed I was laying low for part of the summer,” she wrote in an Instagram post that featured her lying beside Francia in a hospital bed.

“So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health. … there aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful best 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.”

“She went to go get tests, and she came home one day, and she was serious,” Francia said in 2018. “She was asking me about my day, and she grabbed a water bottle out of the fridge and tried to open it and couldn’t. Then she threw it on the floor, and she fell to the floor and started crying. I was like, ‘What is wrong with you?’ She said, ‘I need a new kidney. I don’t know what I’m going to do, the waitlist is seven to 10 years.’ ” Francia, seeing her friend in pain, tested to see if she was compatible. She was, and Francia was able to save Selena’s life.

Selena’s full conversation is featured in WSJ. Magazine’s February Talents and Legends Issue out on newsstands Saturday, January 18th.