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‘Game Of Thrones’ Star Emilia Clarke Opens Up About Surviving Brain Aneurysms

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


Daenerys Targaryen has truly been through a lot in the past seven seasons of Game of Thrones. However, the true survivor is still the woman who plays the Mother of Dragons. Emilia Clarke has just revealed that she has survived not one but two brain aneurysms while working on the HBO series.

Clarke wrote about how her troubles actually began when she was cast as the platinum blonde Khaleesi. The Solo: A Star Wars Story actress admitted that she began working out “to relieve the stress” of working on a popular series. However, it also led to Clarke being “violently, voluminously ill” as she felt a “shooting, stabbing, constricting pain” in her head.

After a brain scan, Clarke was given a shocking diagnosis.

She wrote:

“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. If I was to live and avoid terrible deficits, I would have to have urgent surgery. And, even then, there were no guarantees.”

According to Clarke, the surgery was “minimally invasive” but it also didn’t work.

“The growth on the other side of my brain had doubled in size,” she wrote following another brain scan. By then, Clarke had only played Daenerys for three years but she had to go in for a second surgery that will ultimately save her life.

“I looked as though I had been through a war more gruesome than any that Daenerys experienced. I emerged from the operation with a drain coming out of my head. Bits of my skull had been replaced by titanium. These days, you can’t see the scar that curves from my scalp to my ear, but I didn’t know at first that it wouldn’t be visible. And there was, above all, the constant worry about cognitive or sensory losses. Would it be concentration? Memory? Peripheral vision? Now I tell people that what it robbed me of is good taste in men. But, of course, none of this seemed remotely funny at the time.”

Clarke (with Kit Harington) will return one last time as Daenerys in ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8.

Luckily, the surgery worked this time and Clarke is proud to announce that she is “now at a hundred per cent.”

“I survived. I survived MTV and so much more. In the years since my second surgery I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes,” she wrote.

You can read Clarke’s op-ed here. She will return as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones Season 8, which premieres on HBO on April 14.

Watch the trailer for the final season below:

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