Can Botulism Cause a Coma? Otto Warmbier Is In An Unresponsive State


North Korea has released 22-year-old U.S. student Otto Warmbier from a 15 year sentence of hard labor, officials said June 13, 2017, as former United States basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in Pyongyang.

Doctors at the UC Health University of Cincinnati Medical Center said the young man was able to breathe on his own, but his neurological state was best described "as a state of unresponsive wakefulness".

Daniel Kanter, medical director of the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit, right, speaks alongside Jordan Bonomo, a neurointensivist, left, during a news conference regarding Otto Warmbier's condition, Thursday, June 15, 2017, at University of Cincinnati Medical Center in Cincinnati. He spontaneously opens and blinks his eyes but doesn't seem to understand language, respond to verbal commands or be aware of his surroundings.

Fred Warmbier also said the family does not believe North Korea's story that "botulism and sleeping pill" caused his coma.

Fred Warmbier appeared critical of the Obama administration's handling of Otto's detention, saying the family heeded the U.S. government's initial advice to take a low profile "without result".

The North Korean government said botulism is to blame for Warmbier's condition, but doctors haven't found any evidence of the illness in the now 22-year-old. Doctors treating him in the USA said they found no evidence of botulism, but did find severe brain damage consistent with losing oxygen to the brain. "There is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long".

Otto Warmbier, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for "anti-state" crimes that amounted to trying to steal a poster from a hotel, learned this lesson the hard way. They said they wanted all to know they and their son had been "brutalised and terrorised by the pariah regime".

Rodman, who arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday, was scheduled to fly to Beijing before returning to the United States.

He was returned to his hometown in suburban Cincinnati in a coma.

"We've been to Washington D.C. Over a dozen times", said Warmbier.

Warmbier suffered severe brain damage while in custody.

The North Korean regime deemed him a "war criminal" and "brutalized and terrorized" him during his detainment, his father said.

Warmbier's scan, though, is consistent with what's usually seen after cardio-pulmonary arrest, where the blood supply to the brain is inadequate for a period of time.

The father of Otto Warmbier, a North Korean prisoner released Tuesday, blamed former President Barack Obama's administration for not doing enough for his son's faster release from the isolated country.

South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson co-sponsored a House of Representatives bill to do just that, even before Otto Warmbier's release. "That was it. That was the last physical time I saw Otto, ever", he added.

A Washington Post newspaper report said the parents were told he may have been infected by botulism while in the North Korea jail system.

On Thursday, North Korea said that it had released Warmbier "on humanitarian grounds".

The father of an American college student who was imprisoned in North Korea and was returned to his home state of OH in a coma says the family is "adjusting to a different reality".