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US doctors dispute N Korean coma story

June 15, 2017 3:53 pm

A team of US doctors have found “no sign of botulism” in the American student freed by North Korea after more than 15 months in captivity.

The regime had said the 22-year-old Otto Warmbier’s coma was caused last year by botulism and a sleeping pill he took after his trial.

He has not spoken since his return to his family hometown in Ohio.

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“His neurological condition can be best described as a state of unresponsive wakefulness,” said Dr Daniel Kanter.

Mr Warmbier “shows no understanding of language” and has “extensive loss of brain tissue” which was likely caused by cardiopulmonary arrest, he said.

According to scans taken after he arrived at the Cincinnati Medical Center earlier this week, there is no sign that he was physically abused during his detention, his doctors say.

Mr Warmbier’s condition is “not what we normally see with traumatic brain injury. It’s the type we see with cardiopulmonary arrest,” Dr Kanter told reporters.

They believe respiratory arrest led to his condition, which is caused by a lack of oxygen and blood in the brain.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Warmbier’s father expressed doubts about the North Korean account of what caused the University of Virginia student’s coma.

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