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Emilia Clarke has revealed that she survived two life-threatening aneurysms during the early years of Game of Thrones.

In a brave and incredibly candid personal essay for The New Yorker, the 32-year-old actress says that she experienced her first aneurysm shortly after completing season one of the HBO show, when she was just 24.

She underwent three hours of brain surgery, which appeared to be successful, but suffered a second aneurysm requiring “intrusive” surgery around two years later. “The recovery was even more painful than it had been after the first surgery,” writes Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen in the fantasy series.

“I looked as though I had been through a war more gruesome than any that Daenerys experienced. I emerged from the operation with a drain coming out of my head. Bits of my skull had been replaced by titanium. These days, you can’t see the scar that curves from my scalp to my ear, but I didn’t know at first that it wouldn’t be visible.”

“And there was, above all, the constant worry about cognitive or sensory losses,” Clarke continues. “Would it be concentration? Memory? Peripheral vision? Now I tell people that what it robbed me of is good taste in men. But, of course, none of this seemed remotely funny at the time.”

Thankfully, Clarke writes later in the essay that she is now “a hundred percent” recovered from her injuries, and alongside partners in the U.S. and U.K. has launched SameYou, a charity which will help others with similar injuries.”It aims to provide treatment for people recovering from brain injuries and stroke,” Clarke explains.

She ends her essay on an optimistic note relating to her most famous role, writing: “There is something gratifying, and beyond lucky, about coming to the end of Thrones. I’m so happy to be here to see the end of this story and the beginning of whatever comes next.”

Season eight of Game of Thrones debuts on HBO on April 14. You can find out more about the SaveYou charity on its website.

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By Nick Levine