Sarah Hyland revealed that she had a second kidney transplant after her first transplant failed two years ago, in a new digital cover story for SELF. Hyland was born with kidney dysplasia, a condition in which the kidneys don't fully develop in the womb, and went into kidney failure in 2012. Her dad was able to donate his kidney, but in 2016, her body showed signs that she was rejecting the organ.
Despite many treatments to try to save the kidney, Hyland's doctors determined that there was nothing they could do. "When you have an organ transplant, it's basically a foreign thing in your body," she told SELF. "Your immune system will want to attack it and be like, 'What is this? This is not supposed to be here.'" A few months later, Hyland went on dialysis, which is a treatment that helps kidneys filter blood when kidneys fail, but ultimately her doctors told her that she'd need to have the transplant removed and look for a new one.
Hyland's doctors still don't know what caused the rejection. According to the National Kidney Foundation, only 7% of kidney transplants fail within the first year, and 17% within the first three years. As it turned out, Hyland's brother was a match for her and was prepared to give her his kidney. But Hyland told SELF that the fear of having a second failed kidney transplant made her very depressed and hopeless. "When a family member gives you a second chance at life and it fails, it almost feels like it's your fault," she said. "It's not. But it does."
Around this time, Hyland told SELF that she contemplated suicide. "I had gone through 26 years of always being a burden, always having to be looked after, cared for, because I've always had health issues and it's a really helpless feeling," she said. "Things like this can be really hard on a person." Fortunately, Hyland reached out to someone close to her and divulged her feelings. "It’s not shameful," she said. "For anybody that wants to reach out to somebody but doesn't really know how because they're too proud or they think that they'll be looked upon as weak, it's not a shameful thing to say. It's not a shameful thing to share."
On top of these serious kidney issues, Hyland also has endometriosis, and had laparoscopic surgery in the spring to address it. A few weeks after the endometriosis surgery, she then had surgery to repair a hernia. In total, Hyland has had 16 surgeries, and she's only 28, she told SELF.
Needless to say, Hyland has dealt with a lot of scary, serious health concerns in the past couple of years. Now about a year after receiving her second kidney, Hyland told SELF she and her brother are doing fine. Having experienced her fair share of doctors, she offered a piece of wisdom for people going through similar health struggles to keep in mind: "A lot of doctors think that when you're in pain, you're not really in pain, that you're just being dramatic, that it's all happening in your head," she said. "I've been through that. I've dealt with doctors like that. Those doctors can go to hell."
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, please contact Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566. All calls will be answered in confidence.