College student sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea returns to the US in a coma

UVA student's brain may have been deprived of oxygen, resulting in extensive brain damage, but the cause is unknown.
2:30 | 06/15/17

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Transcript for College student sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea returns to the US in a coma
tonight, the stunning reveal from doctors, the American college student brought home from North Korea, has extensive brain damage. Otto Warmbier had been sentenced to 15 years hard labor. Sent home in a coma. Tonight, doctors explains his condition and the mystery now, what did the north kroreans do to him? Reporter: Tonight, after 18 months held captive in North Korea, Otto Warmbier's doctors say he has extensive brain damage. He has spontaneous eye-opening and blinking, however, he shows no signs of understanding language. Responding to verbal commands or awareness of his surroundings. Reporter: But how and why is still a mystery. But what they do, his brain was deprived of oxygen. How that happened is unknown. In general, respiratory arrest in is rare event. Generally caused by something like intoxication or a traumatic injury. Reporter: The north Koreans say he contracted botulism and fell into a coma after taking a sleeping pill. We see no Ed of an eye cute or healing pack church including the skull. Reporter: It's a devastating prognosis for the university of Virginia student who was accused of stealing a propaganda poster -- and sentenced to 15 years hard labor after a one-hour trial. Warmbier's fer's father railing against North Korea today saying they brutalized their son. I'm able to talk to you on Otto's behalf and I'm able to wear the jacket that he wore when he gave his confession. Linzie joins us live tonight from Cincinnati. The president reaching out the the family. That's right, Fred Warmbier said the president called, asking how he's dealing. Said secretary tillerson worked hard to secure his release. David. Linzie, thank you. To the other story playing out at this hour the congressional baseball game in Washington.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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