Emilia Clarke survived a stroke and 3 brain surgeries within 3 years! Here she tells all
Last Modified: Mar 22, 2019
Emilia Clarke is known as the fearless Daenerys Targaryen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Lady of Dragonstone, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons. But how is she in real life? Is she strong as her Game of Thrones character?
In a recent interview with The New Yorker, she shared how she had survived a near-fatal stroke in 2011 followed by three brain surgeries within three years. In the end, Emilia Clarke says she has come out hundred percent healed, thankful and stronger.
Suddenly flung to the lead character in Game of Thrones was not easy for Emilia Clarke, who had never had a more recognized role. The filming of season 1 of the Game of Thrones had just finished. Feeling the stress and being terrified of attention and business, she took to exercise to relieve the stress.
Near fatal stroke
On February 11, 2011, Clarke had gone to the gym in Crouch End, North London for her regular workout. A bad headache came on to her at the gym. She recalls,
“Then my trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain. I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t. I told my trainer I had to take a break.
Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room. I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill. Meanwhile, the pain—shooting, stabbing, constricting pain—was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.”
She went on to describe how a woman in the next stall helped her, called an ambulance as her vision went blurry and sounds went noisy. Clarke was then sent to the emergency room of Whittington Hospital, where her parents were also informed to meet.
Live saving surgery
In the hospital, finally, the diagnosis was made. She had SAH, a life-threatening type of stroke and needed urgent brain surgery. Emilia Clarke recalled,
“Finally, I was sent for an MRI, a brain scan. The diagnosis was quick and ominous: a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain. I’d had an aneurysm, an arterial rupture.
As I later learned, about a third of SAH patients die immediately or soon thereafter. For the patients who do survive, urgent treatment is required to seal off the aneurysm, as there is a very high risk of a second, often fatal bleed.”
Two weeks after the surgery, the nurse performed part of a series of cognitive exercises asking “What’s your name?” Clarke could not remember it and instead “nonsense words tumbled out of her mouth and she went into a blind panic.” She had the condition called aphasia due to trauma in her brain.
Recovery and back to work
About a week later, the aphasia had passed and she was able to speak properly and remember her full name- Emilia Isobel Euphemia Rose Clarke. She was discharged from the hospital a month after being admitted.
Emilia Clarke had to back on the set of Game of Thrones in a matter of weeks and the doctors had told that she had a smaller aneurysm on the other side of her brain and possibly would remain dormant and harmless indefinitely.
In 2013, after finishing filming season 3 of Game of Thrones, she went for a routine brain scan. The remaining aneurysm had doubled in size and was in need of another surgery.
To remove Aneurysm
At the Manhattan hospital, doctors operated on her but the surgery was a failure and she had massive bleeding. Though the pain was unbearable, doctors had to operate on Clarke save her life.
The second surgery was a success and she had spent a month in the hospital, having overcome anxiety, pain, and panic attacks.
A Hundred Percent
Aside from occasional headaches, Emilia Clarke shared that has made full recovery and vows to help charity such as Same You which provides treatment for people recovering from brain injuries and stroke.
Clarke revealed in the same interview with The New Yorker,
“I survived MTV (interview) 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 percent. Beyond my work as an actor, I’ve decided to throw myself into a charity I’ve helped develop in conjunction with partners in the U.K. and the U.S.
It is called SameYou, and it aims to provide treatment for people recovering from brain injuries and stroke. I feel endless gratitude—to my mum and brother, to my doctors and nurses, to my friends. Every day, I miss my father, who died of cancer in 2016, and I can never thank him enough for holding my hand to the very end.”