Emilia Clarke Reveals She Almost Died TWICE While Filming GoT

3 min read

“... Every minute of every day I thought I was going to die.”

Beloved Game Of Thrones star Emilia Clarke has revealed she suffered two life-threatening aneurysms and underwent brain surgery at the end of Season One. 

Shocking GoT fans around the world, the Mother Of Dragons poured her heart out in an essay for The New Yorker sharing the story she's "never told" publicly. 

"Just when all my childhood dreams seemed to have come true, I nearly lost my mind and then my life."

Clarke was 24 years old when she wrapped Season One, the press tour was about to begin and she was working out with a PT to "relieve the stress" of her new found fame. 

On the morning of February 11, 2011 she started to feel a "bad headache" coming, but pushed through the pain and got through the first few exercises of her workout. 

The pain didn’t subside, and when her PT had Clarke get into a plank position she "felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain". She made her way to the bathroom where she became violently ill.

"Meanwhile, the pain - shooting, stabbing, constricting pain - was getting worse. At some level I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged."

Clarke tried to "will away the pain" and told herself she "will not be paralysed". She tried to move her fingers and toes and recall lines from GoT. 

Luckily, there was a woman in the bathroom who rolled her into the recovery position until the ambulance arrived - at this point she was in a state of unconsciousness. 

She was sent for an MRI and brain scan with the diagnosis revealing she had a subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain.

In a state of "drugged wooziness, shooting pain and persistent nightmares" she was asked to sign a release from for brain surgery. 

Clarke learned that about a third of SAH patients either died immediately or soon after, and for those who do survive, urgent treatment is required to seal off the aneurysm to prevent another attack: 

"I was in the middle of my very busy life—I had no time for brain surgery. But, finally, I settled down and signed. And then I was unconscious. For the next three hours, surgeons went about repairing my brain."

Following the operation, Clarke said the pain was unbearable:

"I had no idea where I was. My field of vision was constricted. There was a tube down my throat and I was parched and nauseated."

The real test was whether she could make it to the two-week mark. However, just one night after she passed that crucial point a nurse woke her and asked, "what's your name?" Clarke could not remember. 

Instead of reciting Emilia Isobel Euphemia Rose Clarke, complete "nonsense words" came out. She was suffering from a condition called aphasia:

"I was faltering. In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug. I asked the medical staff to let me die. My job - my entire dream of what my life would be - centred on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost."

She was sent back to the ICU and after about a week the aphasia passed. However, in 2013 the small growth she initially left the hospital with - which the doctors reassured her would "remain dormant and harmless indefinitely," - had doubled in size.

 The doctors immediately took care of it, however the procedure 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.”

But after a third operation, in true Daenerys Targaryen fashion - the epitome of strength - Clarke emerged, leaving the hospital with titanium replacing bits of her skull and a scar that “curves from my scalp to my ear”.

Since then, Clarke has been 100 per cent and has developed a charity, ‘SameYou’ with partners in the UK and US which aims to provide treatment for people recovering from brain injuries and stroke.

Image: Game Of Thrones/HBO

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Written By Christina Cavaleri