Emilia Clarke Opens up About 'Unsung Heroes' Behind Her Life-Saving Brain Surgeries

Earlier this year, Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke revealed that she had to have life-saving brain surgeries years ago, and now she's opened up about the "unsung heroes" behind her procedures. While speaking to PEOPLE for the outlet's firs-ever Kindness Issue, Clarke recounted what she went through during that harrowing time. “It was a brain aneurysm that ruptured, and it was pretty traumatic. 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,” she told PEOPLE.

In a New Yorker essay published in March, Clarke detailed her frightening aneurysm surgeries, revealing that she had to have the two different operations, with the first one being in 2011. The next came a few years later, with both taking place during her time on the hit HBO series.

Going on to speak about other important people in her life that supported her during that dark period, Clarke brought up her mother, who was with her every step of the way. “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,’ ” she told PEOPLE. “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,” she added. “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."

“The whole experience inspired me to launch my charity SameYou,” Clarke continued. “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. 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.”

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Next up, fans can catch Clarke in Last Christmas, which opens in theaters on Friday.

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