Emilia Clarke says she's missing "quite a bit" of her brain after two painful brain aneurysms. Clarke, who played Daenerys Targaryen on HBO's Game of Thrones, previously wrote about suffering the life-threatening aneurysms in 2011 and 2013. The first, coming just as she'd finished wrapping up GOT's first season, triggered a stroke and subarachnoid hemorrhage, or bleeding within the subarachnoid space of the brain. About 25% of people who suffer a subarachnoid hemorrhage die within 24 hours and about 40% of hospitalized patients die within a month.
"I am in the really, really, really small minority of people that can survive that," the 35-year-old actor, now starring in Anton Chekhov's The Seagull in London's West End, tells BBC's Sunday Morning, per People. And not just survive. "It's remarkable that I am able to speak, sometimes articulately, and live my life completely normally with absolutely no repercussions" given "the amount of my brain that is no longer usable." With strokes, "basically, as soon as any part of your brain doesn't get blood for a second, it's gone," says Clarke. "The blood finds a different route to get around but then whatever bit it's missing is therefore gone."
After her first brain surgery, Clarke was diagnosed with aphasia, a disorder affecting communication. She couldn't even remember her name. "I asked the medical staff to let me die," she wrote for the New Yorker in 2019. "My job—my entire dream of what my life would be—centered on language." But the condition was temporary. "It was incredibly helpful to have Game of Thrones sweep me up and give me that purpose," Clarke tells the BBC, per CNN. She went on to found SameYou, a charity that raises money for people recovering from brain injury. (More aneurysm stories.)