Emilia Clarke Suffered Two Life-Threatening Brain Aneurysms During ‘Game of Thrones’

"I thought, this is it. This is my time."

With the end of Game of Thrones near, Emilia Clarke thought it best to reflect on the past decade of her life. The actress, who portrays Daenerys Targaryen on the hit HBO show, wrote a personal essay for The New Yorker in which she revealed she had suffered two life-threatening brain aneurysms while shooting GOT.

Clarke recounted the first time the brain aneurysm happened. “On the morning of February 11, 2011, I was getting dressed in the locker room of a gym in Crouch End, North London, when I started to feel a bad headache coming on. I was so fatigued that I could barely put on my sneakers. When I started my workout, I had to force myself through the first few exercises,” she recalled. Clarke couldn’t complete her workout and “crawled” her way to the locker room where the pain felt like”an elastic band were squeezing my brain” at first before it intensified to “shooting, stabbing, constricting pain.”

As Clarke grew weaker, a woman came into the locker room and positioned her in the recovery position until an ambulance arrived. After getting an MRI, Clarke was told she suffered “a subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain.” A “minimally invasive” brain surgery was the next step and it was a success. Then, it was back to GoT.

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But in 2013, while playing Holly Golightly on Broadway, Clarke suffered another aneurysm and knew this time wouldn’t be as easy as the first.

“While I was still in New York for the play, with five days left on my sag insurance, I went in for a brain scan—something I now had to do regularly. The growth on the other side of my brain had doubled in size, and the doctor said we should “take care of it.” I was promised a relatively simple operation, easier than last time,” she remembered. However, when she woke up from the procedure, she was “screaming in pain.”

Emilia shared some photos from her time in hospital with CBS Sunday Morning. 

brain anyeras

She continued, “The procedure had failed. I had a massive bleed and the doctors made it plain that my chances of surviving were precarious if they didn’t operate again. This time they needed to access my brain in an old-fashioned way—through my skull. And the operation had to happen immediately.”

The recovery was not easy for Clarke, who described the pain as more gruesome than any that Daenerys experienced”.

“I thought, This is it. My time is up; I’ve cheated death twice and now he’s coming to claim me,” she said before doing an interview with an MTV reporter despite telling her publicist she was in pain. “But I survived. I survived MTV and so much more. In the years since my second surgery, I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes. I am now at a hundred per cent.” Turning her pain into purpose, Clarke launched her own organisation, SameYou, “to help young adults become themselves again after brain injury and stroke.”

WATCH: Game of Thrones Season 8 Official Trailer.

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