Hudgens sat down with PEOPLE Now on Tuesday to praise the Modern Family star, who she has known for almost a decade, for having the courage to share her truth and open up about the painful experience that, at one point, made her have suicidal thoughts.
“I remember when she needed her first transplant and I remember when her body was rejecting it and I remember when she needed her second one,” Hudgens recalled. “I’m so proud of her for being brave to share her story with the world, because it was a very emotional and taxing thing on her. She’s just one of the strongest women I know.”
“I always will see her as this like tough New Yorker even though she’s so petite. She is small but mighty!” Hudgens continued. “I’m just really proud of her for sharing her truth.”
Hyland, who suffers from kidney dysplasia, originally received a kidney donated from her father in February of 2012, though doctors soon discovered that her body had rejected it and informed the actress that despite various treatments, the kidney was too far gone. Her 23-year-old brother, Ian, was found to be a match, but Hyland admitted that the news was of little comfort, as she feared “failing” her brother just as she had her father.
“I was very depressed,” she said. “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. For a long time, I was contemplating suicide, because I didn’t want to fail my little brother like I failed my dad.”
After having her transplanted kidney removed in May of 2017, Hyland underwent a second kidney transplant in September of that year. Fourteen months later, and a total of 16 surgeries under her belt in her 27 years of life, Hyland is now doing well.
“She’s now healthy when it comes to her kidneys. She’s doing well, and her levels are all good,” a source claimed. “But she is taking immunosuppressant drugs that make her very vulnerable to germs and disease so she has to be so cautious…She has a chronic illness and she will have to deal with it for the rest of her life. She’s still working through it all.”
Hyland, who also opened up about the transplants in a video where she showed her multiple transplant scars, claimed that her health struggles don’t “hold me back from anything. I won't let it."