Sarah Hyland is a fighter.
The actress has been fighting kidney dysplasia her entire life. But the last few years, she’s had to deal with so much more — body shamers, unwanted medical side effects, false rumors, trashy magazines, and quack doctors.
Sarah was born with kidney dysplasia, often caused by genetics, and has been fighting ever since. According to Sarah,
“I was born with so many health issues that doctors told my mother I would never have a normal life. And she said, ‘You’re right, she won’t — but it won’t be because of her health.'”
Kidney dysplasia develops in utero and many babies don’t survive. Those who do survive need dialysis and a kidney transplant very early on. The condition causes one or both of the kidneys to develop abnormal and cysts replace healthy tissue. For Sarah, this has caused a lifelong journey to health.
To fully understand her story, let’s go back to 2012 when she first opened up to Seventeen about her condition.
May 2012: Sarah Reveals She had a Kidney Transplant
In April of that year, Sarah received a kidney from her father. In her first interview about her condition, she later told Seventeen,
“You know that family is always going to be there for you – no matter what. My dad gave me a freakin’ kidney!. But it’s also the families that you create outside of your family. And you really find out what kind of people you’re friends with.”
Her boyfriend at the time, Matt Prokop, helped her with constant injections and took her to doctor appointments to keep her well.
April 2015: Sarah Talks Happiness In the Face of Adversity
Sarah returned to Seventeen to discuss her disease and how she continues to enjoy life despite it all.
“If I can’t have an ordinary life, I might as well have an extraordinary one. If you set your mind to something, you’ll achieve it.”
May 2017: Sarah Takes on Body Shamers
In a lengthy Twitter post, she wrote,
“I will say this year has brought a lot of changes and with that, physical changes. I’ve basically been on bed rest for the past few months, I’ve lost a lot of muscle mass. My circumstances have put me in a place where I’m not in control of what my body looks like. I write this because I’ve been accused of promoting anorexia… And I want young girls to know that that’s NOT my intention.”
“I don’t mind when you say that I look pregnant. Or fat. Because I know that my face is swollen from medication that is saving my life. I’m a 26-year-old woman who goes through more than you could ever imagine on a daily basis. I am grateful for the life I live and you should be too.”
She said that online bullies were telling her “to eat a burger” and that “her head is too big for her body.”
“It’s never fun to look in the mirror and see your hard work at the gym fade away or have your legs be the size of one’s arms. But I know that when I get the clearance I will be able to get back to the STRONG, lean, and fabulous self I know I can be.”
September 2017: Sarah Gets a Tattoo to Commemorate Her Struggle
On Instagram, she debuted a new, symbolic tattoo inspired by her favorite Robert Frost quote, “The best way out is always through.”
November 2017: Sarah Discusses the Side Effects of Her Medications
After being accused of getting plastic surgery by Life & Style magazine, she took to Instagram to address the rumors head-on. She explained that her medication prednisone, which prevents organ rejection, was the cause of her “moon face” swelling. As a result, she uses lymphatic rollers to help reduce the swelling, although she admitted she wasn’t sure if it was working or not.
December 2017: Sarah Faces Obstacles to Getting Her Medication
Although she had her kidney transplant more than 5 years ago, she still continues to take medication to manage her condition. So when she couldn’t pick up her prescription one day, she panicked. She posted on Twitter,
“If that infection is not treated soon, it would turn into pyelonephritis, which would send my kidney into rejection. And then I’d be put on dialysis, and then I would be put on the waiting list for another kidney. So I’d really not like that.”
Luckily, CVS saw her message and quickly fixed it, making sure Sarah got what she needed. But of course, that doesn’t help all the other people in Sarah’s situation. Just as Sarah said,
“People like me can’t afford to go without medication.”
March 2018: Sarah Talks Chronic Pain And Dealing with Doctors
“For those who are chronically ill and in chronic pain: Have you had the experience of doctors not listening to you?. If so, how do you not tear their heads off with your bare hands? :)”
June 2018: Sarah Returns to the Hospital
On June 22, Sarah revealed that she had to return to the hospital due to her condition. She posted the selfie above with the caption,
“Sometimes a selfie is more than just a good angle and feeling cute. This time for #nationalselfieday I’ve decided to share my truth. As painful as it,” she wrote. “So here is my face that was torn from work against my will. But I’m very grateful it was. Health should always come first.”
No word yet if Sarah has returned home.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel (by far!), but when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her hanging with her kitty Tom or tweeting at Sen. Chuck Schumer.