Comatose US Student Freed by North Korea Has Severe Brain Injury

Comatose US Student Freed by North Korea Has Severe Brain Injury

Otto Warmbier, the USA student released by North Korea this week after falling into a coma while in a labor camp, has suffered "severe neurological injury", a hospital spokesman said June 15, 2017.The 22-year-old from Cincinnati spent more than a year in detention after being arrested for stealing a political poster from a hotel.

Otto Warmbier hasn't needed a respirator or supplemental oxygen since arriving at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center late Tuesday night by ambulance, but has a severe neurological injury, they said.

Doctors said they have very limited information about Warmbier's condition before his arrival in the United States and have not had any contact with North Korean medical officials.

The university student, who had been on a tourist trip, was sentenced to 15 years hard labor, a punishment the USA decried as far out of proportion to his alleged crime, accusing the North of using him as a political pawn.

Warmbier has extensive loss of brain tissue, a condition that can often occur as a result of cardio-pulmonary arrest which cuts off the supply of blood to the brain for a period of time resulting in the death of brain tissue, Kanter said.

Unlike in a coma, patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome are technically awake and can show small signs of eye movement, such as blinking, even if they don't display conscious awareness or reaction to their surroundings like in Warmbier's case.

The elder Warmbier said he did not believe North Korea's explanation that the coma resulted from botulism and a sleeping pill.

"When Otto was first taken, we were advised by the past administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release", said Fred.

They said they had found no indication of botulism, a toxin that causes nerve damage.

Warmbier was sentenced to serve 15 years of hard labor after he confessed to stealing a political poster from his hotel during a trip to the country.

This is the Otto I know and love.

Warmbier's father noted that the State Department under Trump administration "was negotiating pretty tough with them".

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The tour group that brought a 22 year-old American student to North Korea where he was later detained and sent home over a year later in a coma advertises the country as "probably one of the safest countries on Earth to visit".

One reporter followed up on this point, asking if the past administration could have done more to secure Otto's release.

Dr. Brandon Foreman of University of Cincinnati Health said tests conducted at the hospital did not show the active presence of botulism.

Warmbier suffered severe brain damage while in custody.

He praised Otto's "adventurous side" and said it was "tough to process" how his son was treated by the North Korean regime.

Fred Warmbier expressed gratitude for the U.S. administration's efforts in his son's favour, and said he spoke personally with President Donald Trump late Wednesday night.

"Earlier this year, Cindy and I decided the time for strategic patience was over, and we made a few media appearances and traveled to Washington to meet with Ambassador Joe Yun at the State Department", explained Fred, according to Breitbart.

North Korea officials have stated that Warmbier fell into a coma shortly after his incarceration in March, 2016.

Hyeon Soo Lim, a pastor who has lived in the Toronto area for three decades after emigrating from South Korea, has been detained in North Korea since 2015.

The State Department now warns Americans against travel to North Korea, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has signaled he may go further.

In pictures and videos from his time in North Korea, Warmbier can be seen smiling and enjoying himself. However, Rodman reportedly said the issue was "not my goal right now".

"While I welcome the news of Mr Warmbier's release, I am very concerned about his condition, and the authorities have to provide a clear explanation about what made him slip into a coma", Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), said in a statement issued in Geneva.

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