Sharon Stone

The Actress on Her Health Crisis, the Doctor Who Saved Her Life, Barrow Neurological Institute, and What She’s Up To Now

“I’m able to be here … and walking and talking because of Dr. Lawton,” says Sharon Stone.

Stone, an actress, producer, and former fashion model, is known for films such as Casino and Basic Instinct.

“Dr. Lawton saved my life,” she says simply.

It was September of 2001 when the Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-winner, Nobel Peace Summit Award recipient, New York Times bestselling author, and activist was admitted to the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco after suffering a brain aneurysm that led to a massive stroke.

“I had a stroke, described as a massive brain hemorrhage,” she says.

Her chances of surviving surgery? Just 1%.

But time was running out, and so Dr. Michael T. Lawton stepped in—and not only performed a successful surgery, but one that allowed Stone to make a full recovery.

“The majority of people who go through what happened to me do not survive, let alone recover. I’m able to be here today walking and talking because of Dr. Lawton,” Stone says. “He not only saved my life, but he made a full life possible for me.”

In 2017, Dr. Lawton took over as Barrow Neurological Institute’s president and CEO, bringing his expertise to the renowned Phoenix destination. He’s also the chair of the Department of Neurosurgery.

And this past June, Stone—who is now passionate about brain research—joined its foundation’s Board of Trustees.

“I’ve [joined the Board] not just because Barrow is the leading neuroscience institute in the world, but also because the president and CEO … is Michael T. Lawton, M.D., the same brilliant neurosurgeon who saved my life all those years ago,” she says. “This institute was and is the finest institute globally to be treated for these types of injuries. Anyone who has a brain injury would be in the finest hands that they can possibly be in at Barrow Neurological Institute.”

“A brain aneurysm ruptures every 18 minutes in the U.S., and 40% of those ruptures are fatal. Two-thirds of survivors suffer permanent neurological deficits. The federal government currently only spends approximately 83 cents per year on brain aneurysm research for each person afflicted, which is simply not enough,” says Dr. Lawton.

Over the past two decades since her surgery and recovery—she had to learn to walk, talk, and function again—Stone was busy raising her three adopted boys and acting in a variety of television and film projects. In 2006, she received the Nobel Peace Summit Award for her work with HIV/AIDS sufferers.  She has also received a Harvard Humanitarian Award, a Human Rights Campaign Humanitarian Award, and an Einstein Spirit Award, as well as many other accolades.

In May of 2021, her film Here Today—a comedy-drama directed by Billy Crystal and also starring Crystal and Tiffany Haddish—debuted in theatres.

In 2021, she also published The Beauty of Living Twice, her memoir in which she speaks about her childhood, her rise in Hollywood, and her humanitarian efforts, as well as when she had her stroke.

“Possibility made me write this book: the opportunity to grow & to share that growth. I have learned to forgive the unforgivable. My hope is that as I share my journey you too will learn to do the same,” she had said around its release.

The book was released in hardcover and as an ebook, and Stone narrated the story for its Audible edition.

Up next? The movie currently titled Beauty, which is scheduled to be released this year. It tells the story of a talented “young Black woman who struggles to maintain her voice and identity after she’s offered a lucrative recording contract,” and stars Gracie Marie Bradley as Beauty.

All this was possible due to the fact that “a brilliant neurosurgeon was able to pull off the nearly impossible surgery that gave me a second chance at life,” says Stone, who will be returning to Barrow this spring to celebrate the opening of its new global headquarters, the Barrow Neuroplex.

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