Actor Emilia Clarke is opening up about the harrowing experience she had with suffering two brain aneurysms in 2011 and 2013.
The star, best known for her role as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO series Game of Thronesshared the story during a recent interview with the BBC’s Sunday Morningdescribing the “most excruciating pain” she endured.
But Clarke’s battle with her condition went far beyond pain. She also revealed that there’s “quite a bit missing” from her brain due to cognitive damage she sustained, which she told the BBC is rarely survivable.
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Speaking to the BBC’s Sophie Raworth about the ordeal, Clarke said:
“The amount of my brain that is no longer usable—it’s remarkable that I am able to speak, sometimes articulately, and live my life completely normally with absolutely no repercussions.”
“I am in the really, really, really small minority of people that can survive that.”
Clarke also described the startling experience of receiving brain scans and seeing just how much damage had been done to her brain by the aneurysms.
An aneurysm is a bulge in brain arteries that can rupture and cause impacts similar to strokes caused by blood clots.
“Strokes, basically, as soon as any part of your brain doesn’t get blood for a second, it’s gone.”
“So, the blood finds a different route to get around, but then whatever bit is missing is therefore gone.”
Clarke’s battle began during the shooting of the first season of Game of Throneswhen the first aneurysm occurred while she was at the gym.
Her ordeal continued for years as complications necessitated increasingly invasive surgical procedures, including what Clarke called “the old-fashioned” type—sawing through her skull to access her brain in order to save her life.
On Twitter, people applauded Clarke for speaking so candidly about her experience.
Despite the terrifying experience, Clarke has decided to use the experience for good.
She started a charity to support stroke and aneurysm patients with emotional, mental health and cognitive recovery services and to help patients recognize that although their brains have changed, they are still the “SameYou,” as the charity’s name puts it.