Doctors: Otto Warmbier in State of 'Unresponsive Wakefulness'

He hasn't spoken or shown signs of understanding language since his return
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2017 11:12 AM CDT
Updated Jun 15, 2017 3:24 PM CDT
Otto Warmbier Suffered 'Severe Neurological Injury'
Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, speaks during a news conference, Thursday.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(Newser) – In a Thursday morning news conference, a rep for the University of Cincinnati Medical Center revealed little about its highest-profile patient, saying only that Otto Warmbier was stable and had experienced a "severe neurological injury." Some of the pieces got filled in this afternoon during a press conference with doctors, who say Warmbier hasn't spoken or "engaged in any purposeful movement" since returning to the US, CNN reports. More:

  • Doctors describe Warmbier, who shows no sign of understanding what's being said to him, as in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness." Contradicting the official North Korean line, they say Warmbier shows no signs of botulism. Rather, doctors say Warmbier's injury is the type often caused by cardiopulmonary arrest brought on by intoxication or traumatic injury.
  • Fred Warmbier had some harsh words for North Korea in that morning news conference. "They're brutal and they’re terroristic," he said, per the Washington Post. "We see the results of their actions, with Otto."
  • Fred Warmbier said the family only learned of Otto's medical condition last Thursday, reports CNN. "Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing a coma—and we don't—there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition a secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long."

  • The Telegraph reports the elder Warmbier also accused the Chinese tour company that brought Otto into North Korea of "luring" Americans. "They advertise it as the safest tour ever. But they provide fodder for the North Koreans. They took him hostage. And the outcome is self-evident."
  • Fred Warmbier offered his thanks to the Trump administration for getting Otto home, saying it was his understanding that the directive to secure Otto's release came from the president. As for the previous administration, it asked that the Warmbiers keep a "low profile. ... Earlier this year, Cindy and I decided the time for strategic patience was over," he said, per the Hill. When asked if Obama could have done more, he said, "I think the results speak for themselves."
  • Danny Gratton, Warmbier's roommate in North Korea, spoke publicly for the first time Thursday, telling the Washington Post: "I think in the Western world we just can’t understand, we just can’t grasp, the evilness behind that dictatorship." He says Otto didn't do anything to deserve his treatment by the North Korean government.
(Read more Otto Warmbier stories.)

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