Selena had been diagnosed with lupus six years earlier, an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack healthy parts of itself.
Prior to the transplant, the star had said that her own kidneys “were just done” due to lupus-related organ damage.
Speaking on the Today Show after the surgery, Francia recalled: “[Selena] goes: ‘I don’t know what to do, the [donor wait] list is seven to 10 years long,’ and it just vomited out of me. I was like: ‘Of course I’ll get tested.”
“I didn’t want to ask a single person in my life,” Selena said at the time. “The thought of asking somebody to do that was really difficult for me. She volunteered and did it.”
The singer also said that it was “unbelievable” that Francia turned out to be a match.
Selena revealed that she’d had the kidney transplant in September 2017, when she shared a sweet photo of herself and Francia holding hands in their hospital beds as they prepared for surgery.
“There aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa,” Selena wrote at the time. “She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis.”
The following year, Francia opened up about her experience of donating a kidney, where she revealed that she struggled a lot more in post-op recovery than Selena did.
“It’s harder as the donor because we are losing something our body didn’t need to lose, so trying to recover from that and she’s gaining something her body needed,” she said on Harry Connick Jr.’s show Harry. “So she’s up and at it immediately and I had a hard time.”
"I couldn’t get up without having someone help me. That was very humbling. I couldn’t take a shower by myself, I had to have someone help me because I couldn’t move,” Francia went on.
But despite the grueling aftermath of the surgery, Francia didn’t express any regret at volunteering as she said that it had made her and Selena “family.”
“It was a big surgery. She felt bad about even having me do that because we are just friends. I am not her family or anything. Well, I am now. She has my blood,” she said at the time.
“She felt bad. We just wanted our families around and it was cool because now I have a big family. I lost my grandparents when I was younger… Her grandparents are my grandparents now and so I have this extension of a family and it’s been really amazing,” Francia added in the 2018 interview.
So when Selena’s new Apple TV+ documentary My Mind And Me came out on Friday, people were surprised by the star’s passing comment about her industry friendships.
“I never fit in with a cool group of girls that were celebrities,” Selena said in one scene. “My only friend in the industry really is Taylor [Swift].”
Francia wasn’t mentioned at all in the 95-minute film.
E! News posted Selena’s quote to their Instagram page on Saturday, and Francia responded by commenting: “Interesting.”
She quickly deleted the comment, but unfollowed Selena on social media.
At the time, some rushed to Selena’s defense as they pointed out that Francia is an actor and theorized that she’d been specifically speaking about the music industry in her documentary.
“Selena gomez said that her only friend in music industry is taylor swift. francia raisa isn’t in music industry apparently so why get mad like that? selena said many times that she sees francia as her sister,” one person tweeted.
Another agreed: “Selena sees francia as her own sister so why would she say francia is her only industry friend?? also i believe selena was talking about the music industry not hollywood in general.”
But when somebody made a TikTok video about the apparent Francia snub on Sunday, Selena fueled backlash by commenting: “Sorry I didn’t mention every person I know.”
This response sparked huge criticism online, with one person writing on a Reddit forum: “‘Every person I know’ um how about the ONE person who gave you part of her literal body? Think that name might be on the tip of your tongue?”
“I was rooting for Selena but she’s coming off here like a real snot,” another replied. Someone else added: “I was giving her the benefit of the doubt but this comment is not a good look for her.”
“It's the ‘I know’ part that gets me. No ‘I’m close with’ or ‘I’m friends with’ as if the person who gave you their kidney is some random acquaintance,” someone else wrote. To which another user replied: “Exactly! It’s such a shocking thing to say, I would have thought it was fake.”
“Annnnnnd you lost me Selena. That girl risked her life to save yours. Send her a fucking text and talk it out like an adult instead of making a snappy response on TikTok,” another comment read.
“‘Every person I know.’ Bitch, she gave you one of her ORGANS,” someone else said.
“Selena this is not the girl boss moment you think it is😂😂😂😂,” one more concluded.
Selena was previously accused of ambushing Francia into donating her kidney after doctors told her that they were a match before they’d told Francia.
“When I found out I was a match, it wasn’t the way I expected,” Francia told Self in 2018.
“One day I got a phone call from Selena, on FaceTime, and she’s like: ‘We’re a match!’ and I’m like… ‘Yay, how do you know this?’” Francia went on. “I had a way that I wanted to tell her, when I’d made the decision.”
Francia admitted that she was “angry” when she called her social worker about the news, and people criticized doctors for telling Selena first and inadvertently putting pressure on Francia to agree to the surgery.
“She wanted to take time to really think abt the life altering decision and that was taken from her. she definitely felt pressured to do it after :(,“ one person commented on a clip of Francia’s interview.
“That’s honestly extremely sad…….. how could you say no after that point,” another wrote. Someone else said: “1)Francis was guilt tripped into the procedure (doc is an idiot) 2)Selena should have allowed her to make the decision instead of celebrating.”
Just over a year after the 2017 transplant, Radar Online reported that Francia was unhappy with Selena’s “unhealthy choices” after she was spotted drinking alcohol before checking into a mental health facility in October 2018.
And in 2019, a source told the same publication that Selena was fed-up with feeling indebted to her friend.
"The truth is that Selena was tired of feeling like she owed something to her because she gave her a kidney," the insider said at the time. "This was Francia's choice; Selena did not steal the kidney from her."
In December of that year, Selena sparked backlash when she referred to Francia as “the girl who gave me her kidney.”
But the pair appeared to rekindle their friendship in the years that followed, and would often post about each other on social media — even making a TikTok video together just four months ago.