Selena Gomez’s kidney donor Francia Raisa reacts to ‘Saved by the Bell’ jokes about transplant

Clémence Michallon
·2-min read
Francia Raisa at the 51st NAACP Image Awards on 22 February 2020 in Pasadena, California (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Francia Raisa at the 51st NAACP Image Awards on 22 February 2020 in Pasadena, California (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Francia Raisa has spoken out after a Saved by the Bell reboot joked about Selena Gomez’s kidney transplant – for which Raisa was the donor.

Raisa, an actor who has starred in shows such as Grown-ish and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, reacted on social media after the show’s executive producers, NBCUniversal, and the Peacock streaming service issued an apology.

“Appreciate the apology but let’s not forget about the donors that potentially felt offended and dismissed from the spray paint written on the wall,” Raisa wrote.

That was a reference to a frame in which a wall can be seen bearing the spray-painted message: “Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?” It appears in the reboot’s sixth episode, “Teen-Line”, in which students at Bayside High have their cellphones taken away and are therefore unable to fact-check pop culture conversations.

The episode also includes a sequence in which a student tells another: “I know for a fact that Selena Gomez’s kidney donor was Justin Bieber’s mom. God, I wish that I had my phone so that I could prove it.”

“Prove what, that you’re an idiot?” the other student replies. “It was Demi Lovato’s kidney. They’re best friends, like you and I were.”

Gomez announced in 2017 that she had to undergo a kidney transplant due to her lupus diagnosis. She identified her donor as Raisa, sharing a photo of the two of them in the hospital together.

Raisa added in another tweet over the weekend: “As a kidney donor I want to show love and let other donors know that you are not alone. You are seen. You are appreciated. You are so brave and your selfless act is very much appreciated and valued!”

Peacock, which airs the Saved by the Bell reboot, apologised along with NBCUniversal (its parent company) and the show’s executive producer in a statement to Variety, after the episode was met with a backlash.

“We apologise,” they said. “It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health. We have been in touch with her team and will be making a donation to her charity, The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at USC.”

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