Fans of "Modern Family" know that star Sarah Hyland has struggled with numerous health issues over the years.
But the 28-year-old actress' revelation last week in the December issue of Self magazine that she'd undergone a second kidney transplant in September 2017 came as a surprise to even her most ardent followers (of which she has 6 million on Instagram).
Hyland, who was born with kidney dysplasia, recounted how, after receiving a kidney from her father in 2012, her body started rejecting it in 2016. By Valentine's Day 2017, she was on thrice-weekly dialysis. Her younger brother Ian was a match to donate his kidney — and anxious to do so.
But as Hyland explained, the ordeal put her in a dark place emotionally: "I was very depressed. When a family member gives you a second chance at life, and it fails, it almost feels like it's your fault. For a long time, I was contemplating suicide, because I didn't want to fail my little brother like I failed my dad."
Thankfully, that hasn't happened for Hyland.
Nor has it happened for a triumvirate of South Florida families who have been featured in these pages in recent months and can all relate to what the Hylands have been through.
So, what better time than now to revisit their lifesaving — and heartwarming — stories.
Jazmine and Naraly Serrano
We met the Serrano sisters in August 2017 — just a month after Naraly, now 25, had donated a kidney to her kid sis Jazmine, now 23.
The Port St. Lucie natives had been as close as twins while growing up. They were each other's best friend and shared everything: makeup; clothes and shoes; and their deepest hopes, dreams and fears.
Two days before Christmas in 2016, the family found out that Jazmine's kidney disease — which she'd been living with for three years — had rapidly progressed, necessitating an immediate transplant.
Until a compatible donor could be identified, Jazmine would need dialysis. She opted for self-administered, at-home peritoneal dialysis — a complicated process in which she was hooked up to the dialysis machine for eight hours nightly while she slept.
Naraly was determined to help. Before even undergoing compatibility testing, she was adamant that she be Jazmine's kidney donor: "I wanted it to be mine. I was attending the University of Florida when Jazmine’s condition was diagnosed. And after I graduated, I accepted a teaching job in Atlanta. So, I hadn’t been around for the day-to-day reality of how much the disease altered Jazmine’s life."
After learning that Naraly would be a perfect donor match, the transplantation was scheduled for June 29, 2017 at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston.
(It would be CCF's 500th solid organ transplant — making it the fastest-growing transplant facility in state. To date, that number now exceeds 800.)
The back-to-back two-hour procedures performed by Dr. Diego Reino went flawlessly.
“I was up and around within a couple of days and never suffered any post-op problems,” said Naraly.
Likewise, while Jazmine had to convalesce longer than her sister — and will take anti-rejection medication for the rest of her life — she too has also fully recovered and is back to working full-time at a custom frame shop in Port St. Lucie.
Of her medical journey, Jaszmine said, "I owe Naraly my life."
To which the elder Serrano sister quietly responded: "She would've done the same thing for me."
Ronald and Candice Corbin
Another touching Treasure Coast transplant story came to our attention in July — courtesy of the Corbins.
In Martin County, Ronald Corbin, 69, is a living legend, having spent 34 years as director of Martin County High’s internationally renowned OPUS choir. He's been a music — and life — mentor to countless students, many of whom still keep in touch decades after graduation.
So when this gentle, soft-spoken Port St. Lucie resident learned in 2017 he'd need an immediate kidney transplant, had he made the news public, there would have been innumerable willing donors.
But there was one former student ... former OPUS choir member ... and lifelong mentee who insisted she be the one to donate: his only child, Candice Corbin.
Ronald initially protested because he was concerned about his daughter's post-op well-being: "It took my breath away that she'd want to give me her kidney," he said.
Candice, a 37-year-old New York resident who's an accomplished singer and musician herself, would not take no for an answer.
"He knows how much I love him and how proud I am of him. I mean, I'm glad he 'let' me do this for him — but really, he had no choice," she said with a laugh.
The Corbins' transplant procedures (also performed by Reino at Cleveland Clinic Florida) happened on May 22.
Post-op, they were both cared for during their convalescences by Candice's high school friends — sisters Erin and Leah Ritland, Jenny Pyle and Jill Watson, all of whom sang in the OPUS choir and traveled from out of state.
"The were amazing," Candice said.
Once Candice was fully recovered, she became an instant expert on the medical aspects of Ronald's new normal as a kidney recipient: the dizzying array of daily medications — some 30 in total — that must be taken at specific times and in specific combinations.
"The first thing I did was set up iPhone alerts on both of our phones," Candice said.
Now seven months removed from surgery, the Corbins are fully recovered and Ronald reported that "Candice calls me at least three or four times a day to make sure I'm doing what I'm supposed to do."
Thomas and Angela Schinske
Dec. 30 will mark the two-year anniversary of the scary night death nearly visited the Schinskes.
Thomas Schinske, 37, has no memory of it.
Angela Schinske, 36, will never forget it.
The Fort Pierce couple, who will celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary in March, thought they'd already survived the worst health crisis they'd have to deal with when Thomas beat colorectal cancer earlier in 2016.
But on that fateful night in December 2016, Thomas suffered an “angiospasm” that was likely caused by having a rare reaction to the specific chemotherapy drugs he was given as part of his cancer treatment.
That night, the Schinskes were watching TV in bed when Thomas suddenly bolted upright and slowly slumped off the bed face-first.
“He never said a word or made a sound,” recalled Angela.
She immediately dialed 911 and, though she had no CPR training, followed the operator's instructions to apply compressions to the upper chest at 100 beats per minute.
Angela did all the right things to keep her husband's heart beating until four paramedics arrived 10 minutes later to work feverishly on him in their bedroom. As his lips started turning blue, Thomas was given at least a half-dozen applications of defibrillation.
"They worked on Thomas a long time before he was stable enough to be transported," said Angela.
In those early hours, Thomas never regained consciousness, so was put into a state of therapeutic hypothermia for three days.
“I have no memory of any of this,” he said. “In fact, I don’t remember anything from mid-December 2016 — which is two weeks before the incident — to at least a week into January 2017.”
Thomas suffered no long-term damage and happily reported, “I’m feeling really good. My last cancer scans were negative and my heart is 100 percent fine. I’m back to running and doing all the things I love to do."
Thanks to Angela's quick, flawless reaction to her husband's life-threatening emergency, Dec. 30 is now an anniversary of the Schinskes being given a second chance at life — instead of the date she became a widow.