‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Star Chandra Wilson Opens Up About Her Daughter’s Real-Life Medical Mystery

Chandra Wilson, who plays Dr. Miranda Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy, opened up about her daughter’s real-life medical struggle and how she directed an episode of the ABC hospital drama to raise awareness about the condition that caused it. Watch what she said in the video above.

The 47-year-old actress said her daughter, Sarina McFarlane, now 23, became ill six years ago with nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. “It presented itself for a really bad case of food poisoning,” Wilson said on Good Morning America on Thursday, March 30. “It didn’t go away for four or five days, so because of that we went to the ER.”

Chandra Wilson and daughter Sarina attend the Rock-N-Roll Marathon pre-race benefit dinner with CureMito! and Chandra Wilson at Brookside Golf Club on February 18, 2012 in Pasadena, California.
Chandra Wilson and daughter Sarina attend the Rock-N-Roll Marathon pre-race benefit dinner with CureMito! and Chandra Wilson at Brookside Golf Club on February 18, 2012 in Pasadena, California. Tibrina Hobson/WireImage

The doctors didn’t offer any specific answers, and shortly after, the symptoms reappeared. “A month later, the exact same presentation happened and this was month after month after month for 10 months,” she said. “I started looking for patterns. When you are the parent of someone who is a chronic pain sufferer, you end up creating these binders for all of the hospital stays so you can keep track of every visit and any new thing that comes out.”

After 10 months, McFarlane was diagnosed with cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS for short), which causes episodes of severe vomiting and exhaustion. It’s extremely difficult to diagnose, and there’s currently no cure or way to successfully manage the pain.

“The name gave a direction to go in,” Wilson said. “And it put us in a community of people that seriously were going through the exact same thing stage by stage.”

Wilson directed a season 9 episode of Grey’s Anatomy in 2012 that explored CVS and the struggle to diagnose the condition. “Being able to be on Grey’s Anatomy with all of those people able to watch it and hear it and say, ‘Oh my God. That’s what that is. I’ve heard of that. That’s my kid. That’s my husband. That’s my aunt,’” she explained. “That’s something that I can do sitting in this chair on the set, then my daughter has said, ‘Go ahead. Go and do that.’”

Although the family has dealt with the medical saga for years, Wilson is speaking out now because her daughter has recently started having episodes again after the illness was dormant. 

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