People.com Lifestyle Health Emilia Clarke Pens Emotional Thank You Letter to Health Care Workers Who 'Saved My Life' The Game of Thrones star shows her gratitude to the health care workers who helped her recover from a brain aneurysm in 2011 By Phil Boucher Phil Boucher Phil Boucher is an editor at PEOPLE and based in London. People Editorial Guidelines Published on July 6, 2020 02:01 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Emilia Clarke has penned a heartfelt thank you letter to the hospital staff who saved her life, following her sudden collapse with a brain aneurysm in February 2011. "The memories I will hold dearest ... are ones that fill me with awe," the Game of Thrones star writes in the new book Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, which is dedicated to the thousands of cooks, cleaners, porters and medical staff working to defeat the coronavirus pandemic in the UK's National Health Service. "In all those moments, over those three weeks, I was not, not ever, truly alone," she writes. Clarke first revealed that she underwent two life-saving brain surgeries in a March 2019 essay for The New Yorker, where she said she became "violently, voluminously ill" midway through a workout with her personal trainer in London. A hospital MRI scan later diagnosed a life-threatening form of stroke known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain. "If I was to live and avoid terrible deficits, I would have to have urgent surgery," she told The New Yorker. "And, even then, there were no guarantees.” The letter also pays tribute to the nurse who first suggested she have a brain scan following her admission to the emergency room. "She saved my life," says Clarke, before going on to thank "The surgeon whose skill, quick thinking and sheer determination" also prevented the worst, "while never letting on how close to death I had been.” She also has special thanks for her anesthesiologist, who she says "miraculously" kept her entire family giggling as he talked Clarke through "the process of what was about to happen to my brain and then counted me down from 10." The actress underwent a three-hour surgery and spent four days in an ICU following her sudden collapse, which happened soon after wrapping filming on the first season of Game of Thrones. Emilia Clarke at the Game of Thrones final season premiere. Jamie McCarthy/WireImage The after-effects of the treatment were also devastating: As a result of her brain trauma, Clarke developed a condition called aphasia which caused her to forget her own name, pushing her into a deep depression that left her wanting "to pull the plug" on her life. “I asked the medical staff to let me die," she told The New Yorker. Her letter to the NHS goes on to describe how the hospital staff pulled her through those dark days, including the children's phlebotomist who was drafted in to take blood from her "tiny hidden veins," to the cooks who made her "fish in white sauce with peas every day" because it was the only thing she could physically keep down. Clarke also has a special message of gratitude to the hospital cleaners "who mopped the floor when my bedpan fell to the ground, shame and embarrassment filling the room along with disinfectant, and then a reassuring smile and a knowledge that they’d seen worse." Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke. Helen Sloan/HBO Yet it is "the countless unthanked nurses" who receive most gratitude from Clarke, particularly those who put her in pajamas "with as much kindness as if I had been their own daughter," she says.