In February 2011, “Game Of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke collapsed after a sudden brain aneurysm. Now, her story of gratitude to the medical staff who saved her life is included in a new book dedicated to British healthcare workers.
“The memories I will hold dearest… are ones that fill me with awe,” she writes as part of the Dear NHS: 100 Stories To Say Thank You. “In all those moments, over those three weeks, I was not, not ever, truly alone.”
The 33-year-old actress first revealed she had undergone two life-saving brain surgeries in a 2019 essay for The New Yorker. The actress became “violently, voluminously ill” while working out with a personal trainer. Following an MRI, she was diagnosed with a life-threatening subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) which was caused by bleeding in the space surrounding the brain.
“If I was to live and avoid terrible deficits, I would have to have urgent surgery,” she said in The New Yorker article. “And, even then, there were no guarantees.”
Just after season one of “Game Of Thrones” wrapped production, Clarke underwent a life-saving three-hour brain surgery and spent multiple days in the ICU.
Thanking the nurse who recommended she have a brain scan after first being admitted to the hospital, Clarke writes, “She saved my life.” The actress also thanks “the surgeon whose skill, quick thinking and sheer determination… while never letting on how close to death I had been.” She also gives special thanks to the anesthesiologist who talked her through “the process of what was about to happen to my brain and then counted me down from 10.”
Clarke developed aphasia, a brain trauma that caused her to forget her own name, pushing her into a depression where she admitted she wanted to “pull the plug.” In her letter to the NHS, she credits the staff for helping her through those dark times, thanking everyone from the cooks who made “fish in white sauce with peas every day” because it was the only thing she could stomach and to the hospital cleaners who “who mopped the floor when my bedpan fell to the ground, shame and embarrassment filling the room along with disinfectant, and then a reassuring smile and a knowledge that they’d seen worse.”
She saves her utmost gratitude to the “countless unthanked nurses” who dressed her in her pajamas “with as much kindness as if I had been their own daughter.”