In the first season’s sixth episode, a pair of Bayside High students are seen debating who donated a kidney to Gomez, 28. The duo argue in the hallway of the school and cannot agree on whether Justin Bieber’s mother or Demi Lovato donated their kidney, and express their anger about not having their phones to prove their claims.
Both suggestions are false rumors. Gomez received a donated kidney from her friend Francia Raisa, 32, who is an actress. The famous gal pals underwent kidney transplant surgery in 2017 to save Gomez from life-threatening complications with lupus – an inflammatory disease that causes the immune system to attack its own tissues, according to Mayo Clinic.
Gomez and Raisa took a hand-holding photo from their surgery beds, which went viral after Gomez shared it on her Instagram.
“Saved by the Bell” continued its joke at Gomez’s expense later in the episode with a graffitied school wall that reads, “Does Selena Gomez even have kidneys?”
Clips from the controversial episode were shared by fans on social media, who were largely appalled at the jokes and made “Respect Selena Gomez” a trending topic on Twitter this weekend.
“Saved by the Bell, that's disgusting. Selena almost lost her life, jokes about her kidney transplant is NOT FUNNY,” fan Twitter account Selena Charts wrote on Saturday. “Respect Selena Gomez.”
“.@peacockTV we demand an apology to @selenagomez for making fun of Selena’s health issues. 5M - 10M people die from kidney diseases every year,” another fan account known as Selena Gomez News shared. “Serious health issues should never be a joke. Stop using Selena’s struggles for profit for your flop show.”
Representatives at NBCUniversal and Peacock did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
However, the broadcast network and streaming service have reportedly issued an apology to Gomez and will be making a charitable donation to remedy the situation, according to a statement sent to Variety.
“We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health,” the statement says. “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.”
Gomez has not publicly commented on the matter. Raisa, on the other hand, expressed that she thinks organ donors were left out of the conversation.
“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,” she tweeted on Saturday.