Meet Selena Gomez’s kidney donor, actress Francia Raisa

Selena Gomez revealed Thursday she had a kidney transplant and that her BFF, actress Francia Raisa, was the donor. The women have been friends for eight years.
Selena Gomez revealed Thursday she had a kidney transplant and that her BFF, actress Francia Raisa, was the donor. The women have been friends for eight years. Instagram

They lie in hospital beds, side-by-side, holding hands.

One woman is widely recognized — pop star Selena Gomez.

The other woman might not be as recognizable, but what she has done for Gomez put her in the spotlight Thursday.

Gomez, 25, revealed she had a kidney transplant she needed because of her ongoing struggle with lupus. The other woman in the photo is her BFF, Los Angeles actress Francia Raisa, who gave Gomez a kidney.

“There aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa,” Gomez wrote on Instagram, where she has 126 million followers, the most on the social media platform.

“She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis.”

Gomez did not reveal when she had the surgery, and her publicist did not release more information.

But here are a few things to know about the 29-year-old Raisa.

1. She and Gomez have been best friends for about eight years. As stars of shows on Disney and ABC Family, they met while visiting a children’s hospital. “Selena and I were in the same group and we just clicked,” Raisa told Latina magazine.

In 2012 Raisa told Wetpaint: “I love her to death. She’s my sister and she is one of the sweetest girls I know. She is so caring and so loving and so nurturing. She’s awesome. I don’t know where she came from.”

2. She held Gomez’s hand through all that Justin Bieber drama and even appeared with Gomez in Dustin Tavella’s “Everybody Knows (Douchebag)” video — which fans took as a dig at Bieber during one of the many times he and Gomez broke up. (Gomez appears around the 4:20 mark.)

3. Born and raised in Southern California, Raisa is the daughter of Spanish-language radio personality Renan Almendarez Coello of Honduras — a top Latino DJ in Los Angeles known as “El Cucuy” — and Virginia Almendarez of Mexico, according to Raisa’s IMDB profile.

“Francia is a wonderful friend with a huge heart,” an insider tells Us Weekly. “They’ve thought of each other as sisters, and beyond their obvious bond through work and womanhood, they also share a lot through their faith and being Latina.”


Feliz cumpleaños a mi hermana, My forever friend ❤️

A post shared by Francia Raísa (@franciaraisa) on

4. Before she acted, Raisa had a modeling career.

5. She is a TV actress best known for her recurring role as Adrian Lee on the ABC Family series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” starring Shailene Woodley. Raisa won a Gracie Award for the role for “Outstanding Female Rising Star in a Drama Series or Special.”

According to People, she made her acting debut in 2005 on the series “Over There.” She also co-starred in the movie, “Bring it On: All or Nothing,” with Hayden Panettiere and Solange Knowles. She played Leti the cheerleader.

She most recently appeared on episodes of “The Mindy Project” and “Dear White People.”

6. She recently joined the cast of the “Black-ish” spinoff “Grown-ish,” which will premiere in 2018, according to People.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body.