In 2011, after completing the first season of Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke faced a frightening experience she hadn’t shared before. While working out in a North London gym on February 11, 2011, she developed a severe headache and felt her brain being squeezed during exercises. Struggling with fatigue, she barely made it to the locker room, experiencing nausea and a sense that something was seriously wrong.
Despite attempting to push through the pain, it escalated, leading to a diagnosis of a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a critical stroke caused by bleeding around the brain due to an aneurysm rupture. With about a third of SAH patients facing immediate mortality, Emilia required urgent surgery to secure the aneurysm and avert potential fatal bleeds. The surgery was successful, but it wasn’t her last.
In 2013, another operation became necessary due to the discovery of an additional significant problem. The procedure initially failed, resulting in a massive bleed, and the doctors emphasized the precariousness of her survival if they didn’t operate again. This time, they had to access her brain through her skull, making the recovery even more painful than the first surgery.
Despite the challenges, Emilia Clarke, now the founder of the charity SameYou, dedicated to supporting individuals dealing with brain injury and stroke, acknowledges her gratitude for being in the minority of survivors. She emphasizes the remarkable fact that she can speak and lead a normal life despite the portion of her brain deemed unusable.
In the face of her own medical struggles, Emilia advocates for kindness and empathy, recognizing that everyone carries unseen burdens and challenges. Her journey reflects not only personal resilience but also a commitment to helping others facing similar health battles.