Emilie Clarke may be the Mother of Dragons, but even queens sometimes need to rely on the compassion and help of others. The Game of Thrones actress is opening up about the nurses who were by her side during her two brain aneurysms in 2011 and 2013, and how the kindness of others (both strangers and loved ones) helped her through the painful health journey.
“It was a brain aneurysm that ruptured, and it was pretty traumatic,” Clarke revealed to PEOPLE in their first-ever kindness issue. “The paramedics were unbelievable. They’d given me drugs so I was in less pain, wrapped me up like a tortilla and made me laugh the whole way to the hospital. There I was, bleeding in the brain, and there we were in this ambulance having an absolute giggle. They were so gracious.”
In March 2019, Clarke penned a personal essay revealing the struggles she faced following her two brain hemorrhages — subarachnoid hemorrhages, to be exact — something she hadn’t spoken about publicly before. The first of the two occurred back in 2011 after she had just finished filming the first season of GOT, which landed her in the hospital and resulted in life-saving brain surgery. Besides her hard-working nurses, Clarke also had the support of her mother.
“There was also my mum, when she went into mum superpower in the hospital: I had aphasia [loss of speech], and she looked at me and went, ‘Yeah, I know exactly what you mean,’” the Last Christmas actress said. “She made me believe she understood exactly what I was saying. It was genuinely her greatest moment.”
“And every single nurse I came across was so kind,” Clarke said. “It’s why I became ambassador to the Royal College of Nursing in 2018. Nurses are the unsung heroes, they’re at people’s most frightening moments.”
It’s also why Clarke decided to launch her own charity, SameYou — a nonprofit that aims to increase both funding and research for neurorehabilitation.
“People’s lives are transformed completely after a brain injury, and the core of our work is recovery — it’s not just the first weeks that you need help, you still need help for years," Clarke said. "I wanted to match someone with a consistent person who has the answers and can hold their hand and tell them that they’re not alone. Being there when someone is scared, confused or angry is one of the kindest things you can do."