During a short news conference Thursday, doctors treating Otto Warmbier described his medical condition, indicating he suffered extensive brain damage during his imprisonment in North Korea.
Following Warbier’s release from the North Korean prison, he was described as being in a coma, and the family says they were informed that he had been in that state for the past 15 months. Thursday, doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center gave additional details about Warmbier’s condition.
Dr. Daniel Kanter gave the first statement, telling reporters that Warmbier arrived with stable vitals, and no dysfunction in any major, non-neurological organs. Dr. Kanter said Warmbier showed no signs of infection, but that doctors had found a neurological problem.
“His neurological condition can be best described as a state of unresponsive wakefulness,” Dr. Kanter said. “He has spontaneous eye opening and blinking, however he shows no signs of understanding language, responding to verbal commands or awareness of his surroundings.”
Dr. Kanter went on to describe Warmbier’s behaviors. Warmbier does not move or speak, and he “has not engaged in any purposeful movements or behaviors” and has “profound weakness in contraction of the muscles of his arms and legs.”
An MRI of Warmbier’s brain showed “extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain,” Kanter said. Doctors do not know the cause of the damage, however Kanter said, “This pattern of brain injury is usually seen as result of cardiopulmonary arrest where the blood supply to brain is inadequate for a period of time resulting in the death of brain tissue.”
Doctors don’t know the extent of any medical care Warmbier received in the North Korea, but they were given images from an MRI taken in the country in April 2016, which indicate that Warmbier’s brain injury occurred shortly before the images were taken.
According to the family’s wishes, doctors could not elaborate on Warmbier’s treatment options or prognosis.
During a question and answer session, a panel of three doctors was asked what could have caused the cardiopulmonary arrest, and one of the doctors said the condition is “Generally caused by something like an intoxication or traumatic injury.”
Reporter: “What would trigger [a respiratory arrest]?”
Physician: “Generally caused by something like an intoxication or traumatic injury.” pic.twitter.com/wyeL6VVR5H
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 15, 2017
Doctors say that Warmbier’s family has been by his side since he arrived at the hospital, and they are being updated regularly.
During a press conference where he also criticized the Obama administration on their handling of his son’s imprisonment, Otto Warmbier’s father, Fred Warmbier, said, “We went for 15 months without a word for, or about Otto.”
Mr. Warmbier was unconvinced by claims from North Korea about the cause of his son’s condition.”Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill – and we don’t – there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long,” Mr. Warmbier said.
Doctors could not find any signs of active botulism.
Doctors cast doubt on North Korean claims that Otto Warbier suffered from botulism https://t.co/LtUCnlL5gf
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 15, 2017
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