Otto Warmbier, the American student who was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor, arrived the US late last Tuesday, but sadly left this work barely one week later.
He arrived Ohio last week in a health condition which doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center described as “unresponsive wakefulness,” adding that he suffered “severe neurological injury” from an unknown cause.
Unresponsive wakefulness is a new medical term for persistent vegetative state. Patients in this condition who have survived a coma can open their eyes, but they do not respond to commands. People can live in a state of unresponsive wakefulness for many years with the chances of recovery depending on the extent of the brain injury.
North Korea put Otto Warmbier on trial in a nationwide broadcast where the 22-year-old was seen tearing up and tendering unreserved apologies for his crime.
“I have made the worst mistake of my life!” he exclaimed, begging the autocratic government to forgive his sins. He also asked to be reunited with his parents and two younger siblings.
Kim Jong Un‘s government said Otto he was given sleeping pills to stay alive after he suffered botulism since March 2016, the same month he was sentenced to prison.
Image shows Otto Warmbier weeping during his trial in court.
STATEMENT ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE FAMILY OF OTTO WARMBIER
CINCINNATI, OHIO – 6/19/17 – The following statement is issued at the request of Fred & Cindy Warmbier and family:
It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20pm.
It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost – future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds. But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person. You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched – Wyoming, Ohio and the University of Virginia to name just two – that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.
We would like to thank the wonderful professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who did everything they could for Otto. Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.
When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable – almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed – he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.
We thank everyone around the world who has kept him and our family in their thoughts and prayers. We are at peace and at home too.
– Fred & Cindy Warmbier and Family
“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,” Fred Warmbier, Otto’s father said.
Dr Daniel Kanter, who examined Mr Warmbier, was quoted by The Express as saying in a statement, “We have no certifiable knowledge of the cause or circumstances of his neurological injuries.”
He suffered unexplained brain damage that had left him in a vegetative state, US doctors said.
“This pattern of brain injury is usually seen as result of cardiopulmonary arrest where blood supply to (the) brain is inadequate for a period of time, resulting in the death of brain tissue,” Dr Kanter added.