GAME OF THRONES star Emilia Clarke wanted to ‘pull the plug’ after two life-threatening brain aneurysms left her unable to remember her name.
Revealing her ordeal for the first time, she said she was first struck down in 2011, during a workout session in London. She had not long started her acclaimed role as Daenerys Targaryen, and was ‘throwing up bile’.
Now ‘at a hundred per cent’ Clarke, 32, detailed her nightmare in an emotional essay for The New Yorker, writing: ‘I nearly lost my mind and then my life. I’ve never told this story publicly, but now it’s time.’
After her collapse Clarke was taken to the Whittington Hospital, where she was diagnosed with ‘a subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain’.
She added: ‘I’d had an aneurysm, an arterial rupture. As I later learned, about a third of SAH patients die immediately or soon thereafter.’
Clarke was transferred to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London for a three-hour operation.
Waking up in ‘unbearable’ pain, she said: ‘I had no idea where I was.’ She was told if she made it to two weeks ‘with minimal complications, my chances of a good recovery were high’.
The actress panicked as she struggled to remember her name. ‘My full name is Emilia Isobel Euphemia Rose Clarke,’ she said. ‘But now I couldn’t remember it. Nonsense words tumbled out of my mouth and I went into a blind panic. I could see my life ahead, and it wasn’t worth living.
‘I am an actor; I need to remember my lines. Now I couldn’t recall my name — I wanted to pull the plug.’
Before she left hospital a month later, doctors told her a smaller aneurysm ‘could “pop” at any time’. Two years later, starring on Broadway after the third season of GoT, the aneurysm had doubled and she had an operation in Manhattan.
‘Bits of my skull had been replaced by titanium,’ she said, joking: ‘Now I tell people that what it robbed me of is good taste in men.’
Weeks later she suffered a ‘horrific headache’ at Comic Con in the US. ‘I thought, this is it. My time is up; I’ve cheated death twice and now he’s coming.’ Because she was due at an MTV interview, ‘I figured, if I’m going to go, it might as well be on live television’.
Now on the mend, Clarke has helped develop a charity called SameYou, helping people to recover from brain injuries. For details see sameyou.org.