Emilia Clarke Reveals She's Had Multiple Brain Aneurysms

Emilia Clarke - Game of Thrones

While Emilia Clarke has kept herself busy with a variety of projects, on screens both big and small, her personal life has been more unstable — particularly given a series of medical scares she faced nearly ten years earlier. As she revealed in a piece she penned for The New Yorker, the film and television actress found her life on the line when her health took a sudden and drastic turn for the worse shortly after she finished filming the first season of Game of Thrones. The celebrity, then 24, fell victim to two devastating brain aneurysms. Were it not for luck and fate, the star-on-the-rise would likely not be where she is today. Here's what Clarke wrote:

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

As Emilia Clarke confessed in the autobiographical article for The New Yorker, it was shortly after the actress finished filming the first season of Game of Thrones that she noticed a stark change in her health. One day, while she was working out, Clarke found herself with an awful headache she could not shake. In fact, Emilia Clarke could barley muster up the energy to put on her sneakers, let alone do any sort of intensive workout.

At that point, by her own admission, the fatigued actress claimed her brain was "damaged." From there, Emilia Clarke was rushed to the emergency room, and her recollect of the events are a fog. That's when she learned she had a subarachnoid hemorrhage. And she was lucky to live, given that many people afflicted with this aneurysm often don't walk away with their lives. She spoke to her second aneurysm and brain surgery, saying:

While I was still in New York for the play, with five days left on my SAG insurance, I went in for a brain scan—something I now had to do regularly. The growth on the other side of my brain had doubled in size, and the doctor said we should 'take care of it.' I was promised a relatively simple operation, easier than last time. Not long after, I found myself in a fancy-pants private room at a Manhattan hospital. My parents were there. ‘See you in two hours,’ my mum said, and off I went for surgery, another trip up the femoral artery to my brain. No problem.

As she explained in the article, Emilia Clarke's brain did not pick a very convenient time to need brain surgery. But she knew it was important, and it was possibly a matter of life and death if she didn't go through with this procedure. And this surgery wasn't ultimately her last, nor her worst.

The whole story is worth reading, because it's best to hear it from Clarke's own perspective. But it's safe to say that we are lucky to have the actress, because that was by no means a guarantee. And while she has remained silent about this devastating part of her life, she now feels confident to share it with the world. Because she feels we should know the story.

Will Ashton

Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.