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Woman who vomited 800 straight days on road to recovery, thanks to lifesaving medical records

ABC Action News I-Team helped her get video
Posted: 7:36 PM, Sep 24, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-24 23:28:53-04

APOLLO BEACH, Fla. — A woman who vomited 800 straight days is now on the way to recovery, thanks to the ABC Action News I-Team.

We first told you about Bonnie Lawrence in May.

The Apollo Beach woman threw up as many as 20 times a day after complications from a 2016 brain surgery. But she's not throwing up anymore after we fought for the release of important medical records that helped her new doctor treat her.

Lawrence was so weak she couldn’t even take her 5-year-old daughter Sarah to her first day of kindergarten in August. When that day came, Bonnie spent the day sick in bed.

“It's memories I won't have,” a tearful Lawrence told I-Team Investigator Adam Walser. “The only thing I could get up for was to brush her hair.”

Bonnie threw up every day for more than two years after surgery that was supposed to stop the pain and ringing in her ear.

She lost 80 pounds and slept beside the toilet, while her husband and daughter cared for her.

“Sometimes when Mommy doesn't feel good, I kiss her head,” said Sarah.

“She's strong. She's so strong,” Lawrence said, wiping back tears.

Now Lawrence is getting stronger after a new surgery earlier this month made her stop vomiting.

Her new doctor would only operate if he could review video of her initial surgery.

 “He needed that video to be able to see what was going on,” Lawrence said.

After seeing a promotional video on Dr. Cedric Shorter’s professional website, Lawrence went to him for her first brain surgery in 2016.

When she started to vomit, after the procedure, Dr. Shorter didn't respond to her requests for the surgery video.

“We emailed for it, called for it, we went down to the building for it,” Lawrence said.

That's when she called the ABC Action News I-Team.

“It was at that point we realized we needed help to get this video, because he's not gonna give it to us,” said Michael Lawrence, Bonnie’s husband.

When asked what finally worked, Bonnie responded, “You. ABC Action News.”

“Because of you, we got the video,” she said.

ABC Action News I-team Investigator Adam Walser contacted the Florida Medical Board, which contacted Dr. Shorter, who sent the video within days.

Dr. Shorter's attorney told us he's pleased Lawrence's new surgery went well and has blamed the video delay on a records keeper, who didn't know the video existed.

Bonnie is now undergoing therapy for her balance and posture, happy to be on the road to recovery.

“I'm optimistic for her future now,” said Michael Lawrence.

A future Bonnie Lawrence hopes is filled with new memories to make up for those she missed.

“She could go all the places we go,” said Sarah.

A legal expert told ABC Action News doctors cannot legally withhold any of your medical records, even if you owe them money. 

Here’s a link to your patient rights in Florida.

To file a complaint against a physician, visit the Florida Board of Medicine website here.

If you have a story you think the I-Team should investigate, email adam@abcactionnews.com .