What was Otto Warmbier's cause of death? Just days after a 22-year-old American was released in a comatose state from North Korean custody, he died. Authorities in the isolated country claim that Warmbier was given a sleeping pill and suffered from botulism. Doctors who treated him disagree that botulism was the case and impart that food poisoning doesn't result in extensive brain damage.

Reasons for Warmbier's death

Dr. Daniel Kanter, director of the hospital’s neurocritical care program, told reporters last week that Otto Warmbrier's condition could be best summed up as a state of "unresponsive wakefulness." It's basically a vegetative state in which the body is still breathing, but brain function is non-existent.

Dr. Lori Shutter, a neurologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, explains that if the brain lacked oxygen for more than three months, there would be no chance of a "meaningful recovery."

The fact that Otto Warmbier died so quickly upon his return to the U.S. suggests that something changed his stable state. There may have been treatment he was receiving that was halted for other reasons, possibly due to contracting pneumonia, a urinary tract infection, or an infection of the bloodstream. If such occurred, his family might have opted to stop giving him antibiotics.

Dr. Daniel Laskowitz, a professor of neurology at Duke University, said a pulmonary embolism may have also claimed Warmbier's life.

He said that there are only two ways for someone to die after being in the comatose state that Otto was in for 15 months; one is infection and the other is a Blood Clot. The 22-year-old may have gotten a blood clot while flying from North Korea to Ohio.

Botulism not ruled out

Laskowitz didn't rule out botulism as the diagnosis the North Koreans claimed Otto Warmbier had, expounding that if he was given a sleeping pill while he was paralyzed from the botulinum toxin, it may have stopped his breathing and his heart -- ultimately ending in brain damage.

It's still unknown what Otto suffered at the hands of North Korean authorities after he was found guilty of attempting to steal a propaganda flag at a hotel. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Reports chronicled what the average lifespan is for a prisoner with a sentence like that in North Korea and it was revealed that many inmates die from illness or malnutrition by the time they're 50-years-old.

Parents blame mistreatment by North Koreans

Otto's parents blame their son's death on the "awful torturous mistreatment" by the North Koreans. They were informed that their son was in a coma not long after he was sentenced. They credit the Trump administration for taking action and bringing him home because they were told to remain silent when Obama was in office.