You might think you know Sarah Hyland ― she’s been part of our “Modern Family” for years, after all ― but the actress has been on a long and frustrating health journey, undergoing at least 16 surgeries.
The 28-year-old star has a condition called kidney dysplasia that develops in utero when one or both kidneys don’t mature correctly and results in painful cysts.
In a bracingly honest profile published in Self, Hyland, for the first time, revealed she has undergone a second kidney transplant after her body began rejecting the kidney her father donated to her in 2012.
“We did all of these tests and all of these treatments to try and save the kidney,” Hyland told the magazine. ”Christmas break, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, my birthday, all of that spent in the hospital.”
Hyland has spoken before about her first kidney transplant. But now she tells the story of the aftermath ― how she began to experience fatigue, fevers and infections four years after the surgery as her body attacked the organ. She had to schedule regular dialysis treatments along with her work on the ABC sitcom and other projects.
The failing kidney left Hyland feeling “very depressed” and questioning her own self-worth. Thankfully, her younger brother, Ian Hyland, matched as a donor and agreed to share one of his kidneys with his sister.
“When a family member gives you a second chance at life, and it fails, it almost feels like it’s your fault. It’s not. But it does,” she said.
“For a long time, I was contemplating suicide, because I didn’t want to fail my little brother like I failed my dad,” she continued. “I had gone through (my whole life) of always being a burden, of always having to be looked after, having to be cared for.”
Hyland said that after sharing her suicidal thoughts with a loved one, she decided to go ahead with the transplant surgery.
“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.”
Hyland received a kidney from her sibling in September 2017, just three days after meeting her current boyfriend Wells Adams. Both the actress and her brother remain healthy.
Not long after the surgery, however, Hyland was diagnosed with endometriosis. She also discovered the cause of tremendous abdominal pain ― a previously undiagnosed hernia. She had laparoscopic surgery for the endometriosis and an operation to repair the hernia.
“Laparoscopic [surgery is] one of the most painful things I’ve ever been through in my life,” she said.
But with an infallible support system and a partnership with Adams, a “Bachelorette” alum, Hyland is optimistic about what lies ahead.
“I’m stable. I’m thriving,” she said. “I’m super happy with life.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.