Game of Thrones fans have raised a growing £30,251 ($28,462) in support of Daenerys Targaryen star Emilia Clarke’s SameYou charity, which works to “increase rehabilitation services after brain injury and stroke for young adults.”
In a revealing piece titled “A Battle for My Life” published in The New Yorker, Clarke detailed her near-death experience at the age of 24:
On the morning of February 11, 2011, I was getting dressed in the locker room of a gym in Crouch End, North London, when I started to feel a bad headache coming on. I was so fatigued that I could barely put on my sneakers. When I started my workout, I had to force myself through the first few exercises. Then my trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain. I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t. I told my trainer I had to take a break. Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room. I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill. Meanwhile, the pain—shooting, stabbing, constricting pain—was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.
An MRI revealed Clarke had suffered 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,” Clarke wrote. “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.”
Clarke then underwent a “minimally invasive,” three-hour brain surgery, a process detailed by Clarke:
...Using a technique called endovascular coiling, the surgeon introduced a wire into one of the femoral arteries, in the groin; the wire made its way north, around the heart, and to the brain, where they sealed off the aneurysm. The operation lasted three hours. When I woke, the pain was unbearable. I had no idea where I was. My field of vision was constricted. There was a tube down my throat and I was parched and nauseated. They moved me out of the I.C.U. after four days and told me that the great hurdle was to make it to the two-week mark. If I made it that long with minimal complications, my chances of a good recovery were high.
When suffering aphasia, in which Clarke would mutter “nonsense,” Clarke admits, “In my worst moments, I wanted to pull the plug. I asked the medical staff to let me die.”
“My job—my entire dream of what my life would be—centered on language, on communication. Without that, I was lost,” Clarke wrote. Eventually, the aphasia passed. A few weeks later, Clarke returned to the set of the HBO fantasy drama for filming on Season 2.
“On the set, I didn’t miss a beat, but I struggled. Season 2 would be my worst,” Clarke wrote. “I didn’t know what Daenerys was doing. If I am truly being honest, every minute of every day I thought I was going to die.”
In 2013, a brain scan revealed a previously discovered growth on the side of Clarke’s brain had doubled in size. Clarke had to undergo an immediate surgery in which doctors would access her brain through the skull.
“In the years since my second surgery I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes. I am now at a hundred per cent,” Clarke wrote.0comments
“Beyond my work as an actor, I’ve decided to throw myself into a charity I’ve helped develop in conjunction with partners in the U.K. and the U.S. It is called SameYou, and it aims to provide treatment for people recovering from brain injuries and stroke. I feel endless gratitude—to my mum and brother, to my doctors and nurses, to my friends. Every day, I miss my father, who died of cancer in 2016, and I can never thank him enough for holding my hand to the very end.”
Donations to SameYou can be made via Just Giving.
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