LOS ANGELES—Sarah Hyland has been keeping a pretty big secret for a very long time: The 21-year-old “Modern Family” actress has grappled with kidney disease since she was in single digits.
The good news? In April she got a kidney transplant, and now she’s sharing her story, via Seventeen and “Good Morning America.”
“My dad gave me a freakin’ kidney!” she told Seventeen, which features her on its June/July cover. She said she knew she could always count on her family for support, 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.” It was, she said, an eye-opening experience.
She told the magazine she was especially lucky to have boyfriend Matt Prokop, whom she met on “High School Musical 3” a few years back. He also made a “Modern Family” appearance this past season as her TV beau.
“He helps me with my medication and takes me to doctor appointments and all the stuff that I need to do to take care of myself,” she said. “Any other 21-year-old guy would not be there, I guarantee it. I am one of the luckiest people in the world to have him be there for me.”
Though she was diagnosed with kidney dysplasia at age 9, Hyland had to wait for her painful, fatigue-inducing condition to deteriorate before a kidney transplant was an option, according to Monday’s “GMA” report. That meant some rough times on the job for the child of two actors who has been working since she debuted as Howard Stern’s daughter in “Private Parts,” filmed when she was 5.
“If you’re sick you still go to work and in between takes you sit down or you lay your head down or something,” Hyland told “GMA,” explaining that she had dealt with her health needs in character.
“I try to make it so that Haley’s always sitting down. If you notice she’s sitting down a lot, texting, or like leaning on something, texting.” After surgery, she said, she also was able to lean on Julie Bowen, her on-screen mom, who swung by to help with things like cleaning her apartment.
The show is on hiatus now, giving Hyland months to recover. She has also teamed with the George Lopez Foundation as a youth ambassador. (The comedian is also a kidney transplant recipient.)
She seemed giddy with her prospects for the future — “I have a kidney in me now!” — and at peace with her life so far.
“If you ask, ‘Why me?,’ well, why not you? You know? It makes you the person that you are today.”