Doctors: We Found No Evidence Otto Warmbier's Coma Was Caused By Botulism As North Korea Claims

Posted: Jun 15, 2017 3:30 PM

Speaking from Cincinnati Medical Center Thursday afternoon doctors treating Otto Warmbier gave an update on his medical condition. Warmbier is the 22-year-old American who was held hostage in North Korea for more than a year before returning home to Ohio this week in a coma.

The North Korean government claims Warmbier slipped into a coma after taking a sleeping pill and suffering from botulism. Doctors said their tests do not reveal any evidence botulism was a factor.

"No evidence of botulism," Dr. Brandon Foreman 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. It is estimated he has been in a coma since April of 2016. They said there is evidence Warmbier suffered a respiratory arrest, which led to a lack of oxygen to the brain. This could have been caused by a traumatic injury or an overdose in medication.

"There is severe injury to all areas of the brain," Dr. Daniel Kanter said, adding Warmbier has lost a significant amount of brain tissue.

There were no broken bones or fractures found during scans and neither. Scarring of the skin due to physical injuries was also absent.

"We examined all the long bones of the body, the ribs, pelvis and the skull," Dr. Kanter said. "In those scans we see no evidence of an acute, or healing fracture of the skull."

Earlier today, Warmbier's father Fred said the North Koreans brutalized his son and implied the regime is lying about the cause of his son's coma.

"He fought to stay alive through the worst the North Koreans put him through,” Warmbier said. 

"Throughout this ordeal the Warmbier family has shown remarkable strength and compassion," Dr. Kanter said. "It is our privilege to care for their son and brother."