Sarah Hyland secretly had a second kidney transplant

Sarah Hyland is getting candid about her ongoing health struggles.

The Modern Family star — who had a kidney transplant in 2012, with her father serving as her donor — reveals to Self magazine that she quietly underwent a second transplant in September 2017. The donor was her younger brother. Hyland admits it’s been a very difficult two years — one that included a period of depression, in which she admitted she had suicidal thoughts and a lot of surgeries (six in the last 16 months).

Hyland, who was born with kidney dysplasia, has been cryptic about her health, but now reveals that her body started to reject the donor organ in October 2016. Despite seemingly endless “tests and … treatments to try and save the kidney” — she was in and out of the hospital for months (“Christmas break, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, my birthday, all of that spent in the hospital”) — nothing worked. So on Valentine’s Day 2017, the 28-year-old began dialysis, which involves a machine filtering a person’s blood because their kidneys can’t.

Hyland said she selected a dialysis center near the Modern Family set to keep working, but it was a grueling process. Three times a week for four hours a day, she was hooked up to the dialysis machine via a chest port under her skin that was visible. Her weight dropped, leading to headlines about her health, she got sciatica (severe pain in her back), her face swelled due to immunosuppressant drugs and fluid retention caused her blood pressure to spike, leading to her vision being damaged.

According to Hyland, she had the kidney removed in May 2017 and soon after got the good news that her brother, Ian, now 23, was a match for a second transplant. While that was obviously great news, she went through a deeply depressive period.

“I was very depressed,” Hyland admitted. “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 also worried the transplant would fail a second time. “For a long time, I was contemplating suicide, because I didn’t want to fail my little brother like I failed my dad.”

However, talking about her suicidal thoughts with someone close to her helped Hyland and she encourages others to do the same. “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 had her second kidney transplant thanks to her brother in September 2017. Today, they’re both doing well. Ian told the mag the “recovery period is not easy, nor is it something anyone can fully prepare you for, but added, “If it saves the life of someone you care about, anything is worth it.”

Hyland is still adjusting too. While it’s been a little easier the second time around already being familiar with the process, it’s still a difficult recovery. And she’s coming to terms with how  her new kidney has changed her body’s appearance, too. She said that her lower abdomen — which she calls her “KUPA: kidney upper p**** area” — protrudes. “It’s this bittersweet moment of, ‘Oh my gosh. I have new life,’ but then also being an actress and being held up to this sort of pedestal of how you’re supposed to look,” she said. “Sometimes I have complete meltdowns in the middle of fittings. “Being like, ‘KUPA will show. I really want to wear this dress and you can’t hide it.’”

While the kidney transplant part is behind her, it’s just one of her health woes. She also has endometriosis, the very painful chronic reproductive condition, and she developed an abdominal hernia. She had two separate surgeries since to address those. Hyland said she’s had 16 surgeries in her life — with six over the last 16 months. She has one more for the endometriosis — to target the remaining lesions — but she hasn’t set a date.

A bright spot has been her relationship with Wells Adams, whom she met for the first time three days before her second transplant. “He was texting me in the morning before I went into surgery, and we were FaceTiming the entire time I was in the hospital,” she said of the one-time Bachelorette contestant. “He’s seen me at my worst. He was there through all of that. I think that’s why I feel the most beautiful in his eyes, because he still finds me beautiful after seeing all that.”

She added that starting the relationship while she was recovering from such a grueling surgery helped too.  “It was a really intimate start to a relationship to have to go through those hurdles at the very, very, very beginning when you’re just even getting to know a person,” Hyland said. “Also, falling in love with someone before you can really be intimate. I did not believe that that was a thing, but it is.”

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Sarah Hyland out and about
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: Sarah Hyland attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Sarah Hyland attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 02: Sarah Hyland and Wells Adams attend DIRECTV Super Saturday Night 2019 at Atlantic Station on February 2, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for DIRECTV)
ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 02: Sarah Hyland attends DIRECTV Super Saturday Night 2019 at Atlantic Station on February 2, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for DIRECTV)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 06: Actress Sarah Hyland arrives for the HBO's Official Golden Globe Awards After Party held at Circa 55 Restaurant on January 6, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 19: Sarah Hyland attends the 2019 Women's March Los Angeles on January 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Women's March Los Angeles )
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 11: Sarah Hyland attends the 6th annual Winter Wonderland Toys for Tots Party hosted by Katie Welch and Jordan Kuker on December 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Sarah Hyland and Wells Adams are seen on November 19, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
MODERN FAMILY - 'Blasts from the Past' - Phil and Claire decide to take a cycling tour through Italy before they become grandparents, and Dylan (guest star Reid Ewing) introduces them to his mom who has an interesting past. Meanwhile, Cameron and Mitchell discover some interesting reading material in Lily's room and decide to confront her about it, while Gloria and Jay discover their respective great uncles may have fought on opposing sides of a war, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, JAN. 16 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) RACHEL BAY JONES, SARAH HYLAND
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 04: Sarah Hyland and Wells Adams are seen on November 4, 2018 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Sarah Hyland attends Just Jared's 7th Annual Halloween Party at Goya Studios on October 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26: Sarah Hyland attends the Los Angeles No Kid Hungry dinner held on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 18: Sarah Hyland attends the amfAR Gala Los Angeles 2018 at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on October 18, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 18: Victoria Justice (L) and Sarah Hyland attend the amfAR Gala Los Angeles 2018 at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on October 18, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Perrier-Jouët and Absolut Elyx)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11: Sarah Hyland is seen on July 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: Sarah Hyland attends the Broadway Opening Day performance of 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two' at The Lyric Theatre on April 22, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images,)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: Sarah Hyland and Wells Adams attend the Broadway Opening Day performance of 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two' at The Lyric Theatre on April 22, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images,)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 16: Actress Sarah Hyland arrives at the FYC Event for ABC's 'Modern Family' at Avalon on April 16, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 13: Sarah Hyland attends Lorraine Schwartz launches The Eye Bangle a new addition to her signature Against Evil Eye Collection at Delilah on March 13, 2018 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Lorraine Schwartz )
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 16: Sarah Hyland arrives for the FYC Event for ABC's 'Modern Family' at Avalon on April 16, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
INGLEWOOD, CA - MARCH 11: Actress Sarah Hyland attends the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards at the Forum on March 11, 2018 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Sarah Hyland attends the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party following the 90th Academy Awards at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California, on March 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX (Photo credit should read JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 04: Actress Sarah Hyland attends the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 4, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)
MODERN FAMILY - 'The Escape' - Haley meets Arvin's parents ('Grey's Anatomy''s Kate Burton, Jim Piddock) but when things don't go as planned, fate leads to an unexpected reunion with all of her ex-boyfriends. Meanwhile, the family seizes on a nursing home visit with Jay's mean sister, Becky, to settle old scores. But as Jay, Claire and Mitchell compete for her time, Phil, Cam and Gloria end up getting trapped in the home's basement with no way out, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, MAY 9 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Ron Tom via Getty Images) ADAM DEVINE, REID EWING, SARAH HYLAND
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 01: Sarah Hyland celebrates with Belvedere Vodka at Vanity Fair and Lancome Paris Toast Women in Hollywood, hosted by Radhika Jones and Ava DuVernay, on March 1, 2018 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Belvedere Vodka)
MODERN FAMILY - 'Mother!' - When Dede drops in unexpectedly, Mitchell and Cam come to a realization about her effect on their lives; Phil, Luke, Alex and Haley all have different bad news to break to Claire and compete about when to do it, the tiny window of time after her monthly spa day when she's her most relaxed, on 'Modern Family,' WEDNESDAY, MAY 2 (9:00-9:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) SARAH HYLAND
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 20: Actor Sarah Hyland attends the Costume Designers Guild Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 20, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for JumpLine)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 20: Sarah Hyland attends the 20th CDGA (Costume Designers Guild Awards) - Arrivals on February 20, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 29: Sarah Hyland checks in from the green room with James Corden during 'The Late Late Show with James Corden,' Monday, January 29, 2018 (12:35 PM-1:37 AM ET/PT) On The CBS Television Network. (Photo by Terence Patrick/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 20: Sarah Hyland attends Entertainment Weekly's Screen Actors Guild Award Nominees Celebration sponsored by Maybelline New York at Chateau Marmont on January 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 20: Actor Sarah Hyland at 2018 Women's March Los Angeles at Pershing Square on January 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 11: Sarah Hyland arrives at the The 23rd Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 11, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 07: Actress Sarah Hyland attends 19th Annual Post-Golden Globes Party hosted by Warner Bros. Pictures and InStyle at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 01: Actress Sarah Hyland arrives at 102.7 KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2017 at The Forum on December 1, 2017 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Sarah Hyland attends Christian Siriano's celebration of the launch of his new book 'Dresses To Dream About' in Los Angeles at Chateau Marmont on November 30, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Christian Siriano )
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 21: Actress Sarah Hyland and boyfriend Wells Adams attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center on November 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 15: Sarah Hyland arrives at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association And InStyle Celebrate The 75th Anniversary Of The Golden Globe Awards at Catch LA on November 15, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Sarah Hyland is seen on November 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by SMXRF/Star Max/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Sarah Hyland arrives at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)
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