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CNN NEWSROOM

Kentucky Children's Reopens Without Explanation; Rare Audio of MLK; Jamaican Bobsled Team Can't Afford to Go to Sochi; Sherman Explains Postgame Rant; North Korea Releases Kenneth Bae Confession Vid; More Cold Headed to Northeast; Probe to Land on Comet

Aired January 20, 2014 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Just past the bottom of the hour, I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Five Kentucky families, desperate for answers when each lost a baby after undergoing heart surgery at Kentucky Children's Hospital in Lexington.

And, now, fast-forward several months, zero answers. The hospital plans to perform those surgeries again, saying it's doing things differently now.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen sat down with the grieving families.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What happened to these babies behind the walls of Kentucky Children's Hospital?

Jaxon Moore was the first to die. Then Kalyn Allen, then Mason Hall, then Connor Wilson, then Rayshawn Lewis-Smith.

JOEQUETTA LEWIS, SON RAYSHAWN DIED: For three days I got to hold him and then the next day he's gone.

SARAH MOORE, SON JAXON DIED: He was born and he looked as healthy as any of my other children. And then, three weeks later, we bury him.

COHEN: Five babies, all dead after having heart surgery at Kentucky Children's Hospital, surgeries that, nationally, babies usually survive.

Did you ever get answers about your son's death?

SHANNON HALL, SON MASON DIED: No. We've still searching. We've asked, just asked and asked.

COHEN: It's awful to lose a baby any time. Does it make it harder when you are never told why?

LEWIS: Something happened. Can't nobody give me no answers. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mama. Your turn.

COHEN: The babies all died within 11 months. Shortly after the fifth baby died in 2012, the hospital decided to stop heart surgeries and put their only pediatric heart surgeon on leave.

But now, only a little more than a year later, Kentucky Children's says it plans to start doing heart surgeries again.

Shockingly, it seems no medical governing is required to sign off on the hospital's decision to reopen the troubled unit.

DR. MICHAEL KARPF, VICE PRESIDENT, HEALTH AFFAIRS, UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY HEALTH CARE SYSTEM: The only person -- the only place they need permission from is for me.

COEHN: That's Dr. Michael Karpf, the executive in charge of Kentucky Children's Hospital.

Last May, he told us he'd commissioned an internal report on the heart surgery program. These parents hoped that report would give them answers.

But here it is, 102-pages long and it doesn't explain why the babies died. In fact, it doesn't even acknowledge that babies died at all.

KEVIN ALLEN, DAUGHTER KALYN DIED: How do you know when the problems have been fixed when they are not identified?

They can say they fixed them, but is an internal review really objective?

JENNIFER ALLEN, DAUGHTER KALYN DIED: I expect nothing more from a health care facility than honest answers and whether it's good or bad, we should know. I mean, that's not too much to ask.

COHEN: Last May, Dr. Karpf told us parents can rest assured.

Parents should trust you that you are reopening and you're going to do a good job?

KARPF: They're going to have -- this is America. They have a choice. They can trust us or not trust us.

All I can tell them is I'm not going to reopen until I feel good about it. It's as simple as that.

COHEN: A spokesman for Kentucky Children's declined the request for another interview with Dr. Karpf, referring us to their press release about the report.

So we went to talk to Dr. Karpf ourselves as he was arriving to speak at a community center.

Can you tell parents why their babies died after having heart surgery at your hospital? Can you give these parents some answers? Sir, can you give the parents some answers?

KARPF: Unfortunately, babies died at Children's Hospital after heart surgery, at other places, also.

COHEN: That's true, but other hospitals are far more transparent. They report how many babies die. Kentucky Children's won't say.

Dr. Karpf, can you explain why so many babies died after having heart surgery at your hospital?

KARPF: I explained to you that our mortality hit the national standards.

COHEN: But he's spinning the facts.

At his hospital in 2012, after heart surgeries, children were dying at an alarming rate of 7.1 percent. That's more than double the national average of 3.2 percent.

And when it comes to how well his hospital performs specific heart surgeries on children, Dr. Karpf won't say.

At other hospitals, you can find that detailed information right on their Web sites.

These parents say they want an explanation and your report didn't give the explanation.

They're going to be taking in patients again. How does that feel?

HALL: It's scary. It's scary just because we don't have answers.

LEWIS: It really hurts that they're going to open this program back up. I'm very scared for the kids.

I don't want nobody to have to go through this again.

COHEN: What are you worried could happen?

MOORE: The same thing that happened to my baby, the same thing that happened to their babies.

I never brought my child home. He never left the hospital. He was 3- weeks-old.

COHEN: Kentucky Children's hospital says it will do things differently this time.

For starters, the original heart surgeon who was put on leave eventually left, so the hospital plans on hiring a new heart surgeon.

It also plans on creating a dedicated intensive care unit just for heart patients and is considering partnering with another hospital for pediatric surgeries.

And Kentucky Children's says they plan to no longer perform the most difficult types of congenital heart surgeries.

But that doesn't satisfy these parents who are left mourning their children, tortured for more than a year by unanswered questions.

MOORE: I don't think it gets any easier ever. That it ever will.

I have been told my entire life that time heals everything. I don't believe that. I still miss my baby, every day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Those parents.

Elizabeth Cohen with me now. And so how come, this program, it seems can reopen without any external oversight?

COHEN: Right. Without any permission from anyone. Right.

It seems that way because from what we know, they have never been cited for any kind of wrong-doing by any governmental or licensing body.

So, as Dr. Karpf said, the only person I need permission from is me. It seems like they closed it on their own, so they can reopen on their own.

BALDWIN: Given the statistics and the rough time they had with surgeries, these heard surgeries specifically, why do they want to do them again?

COEHN: Dr. Karpf said it would be a hardship if they were not there to do the surgeries.

Others say, wait a minute, other reports do the surgeries with relatively nearby. People could go other places.

These critics say they think the reason why the university does them is because these are lucrative surgeries. Many of them reimburse at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Rayshawn Smith had 10 surgeries in his short life. These children represent a lot of money to hospitals.

BALDWIN: We will stay on it. Thank you very much.

Americans of course remembering the reverend martin Luther king today. The Obamas volunteer at the D.C. central kitchen. The big community kitchen preparing meals with the first family there.

Also in Washington today, a wreath placed at Dr. King's memorial where Dr. King is assassinated. A rare roaring of an interview was played.

You will hear Dr. King discussing with John F. Kennedy, his releasing him from prison two weeks before the election and then sent Kennedy to the White House.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: Many forces worked to bring about my release. I don't think that there any one force brought it about, but you have plurality of forces working together.

I'm sure that the interests of the public in general all over America had something, a great deal to do with it.

It is true that Senator Kennedy did take a specific step. He was in contact with officials in Georgia during my arrest and he called and my wife made a call and expressed his concern and said that he was working and trying to do something to make my release possible.

His brother who at that time was his campaign manager also made contact with officials and even the judge in Georgia so that the Kennedy family did have some part, at least they expressed a concern and they did have some part in the release.

But I must make it clear that many other forces worked to bring about, also.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Dr. King's comments there are on a 53-year-old reel-to-reel tape discovered in a Tennessee attic. The last minutes are only now made public.

The Jamaican bobsled team qualified to go to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The only problem is they can't afford the trip.

A big push by some complete strangers to try to get them to Russia. I talked to a couple of bobsled members today. I will share that with you.

Did you see the post-game rant from Richard Sherman? He was just a tad amped up after that game.

The comment that had everyone going, now he is explaining himself. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Given some of the recent reporting, it's understandable that people are nervous about going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but the Jamaican bobsled team is desperate to get there.

The team is trying to raise, thanks to strangers, $80,000 they need to get there. Last hour, I talked to them and asked how Jamaicans in a land of sun and no snow got into the sport in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WINSTON WATT, CAPTAIN & DRIVER, JAMAICAN BOBSLED TEAM (via telephone): They couldn't find athletes on the street. What they did was turned to the military to search for athletes. That's where they found most of the athletes, a helicopter pilot and a couple of them who were guys, from there, and here we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So now total strangers are trying to help them raise the $80,000 to send Winston and his other colleague to Sochi to compete.

The Super Bowl is set. Peyton Manning's Broncos will face Russell Wilson's Seahawks, but Wilson's teammate, Richard Sherman, is getting all the attention with that rant after saving Sunday's game for Seattle.

Andy Scholes has more on the post-game moment that everyone is talking about today. Andy?

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORTER: Hey, Brooke. The Seahawks' Richard Sherman is known as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and, as we're finding out, he's also one of the best trash-talkers.

Sherman definitely talked the talk in yesterday's game against the 49er, but he also walked the walk.

In the closing seconds, he came through with the game-winning play, batting the ball away, causing an interception.

Sherman then got in Michael Crabtree's face to gloat and threw up the choke sign to the 49ers bench.

But he wasn't done yet. Sherman then went on an epic post-game rant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD SHERMAN, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS CORNERBACK: I'm the best one in the game. That's the result you are going to get. Don't you ever talk about me!

ERIN ANDREWS, SPORTS REPORTER: Who was talking about you?

SHERMAN: Crabtree, don't you open your mouth about the best! Or I'm going to shut it for you, real quick!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And Crabtree responded to Sherman's rant, tweeting, "Film don't lie. NFL Network, ESPN pull up the tape of that game and show me where this guy is the best," hash tag, "#FakeFakeFake."

Now Sherman ended with a tweet of his own, saying, "A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of a sheep."

And, Brooke, we're going to have to wait and see if Sherman is able to walk the walk again when he takes on Peyton Manning and the Broncos' record-setting offense in the Super Bowl February 2nd in New Jersey.

BALDWIN: Andy, thank you.

And we also know Richard Sherman posted a column in "Sports Illustrated's" Monday Morning Quarterback site.

He said he still doesn't think Michael Crabtree's a top NFL receiver. Let me read this for you.

But in his words, "It was loud, it was in the moment and it was just a small part of the person I am."

He goes on, "I don't want to be the villain because I'm not a villainous person."

Again, Super Bowl, February 2nd.

Coming up, Kenneth Bae, the American detained in North Korea, has issued a statement on camera. He says he has committed a serious crime against North Korea, urges the U.S. to help secure his release.

But what can we really learn from this so-called confession? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Locked up in North Korea for more than a year and now new video of American captive Kenneth Bae.

In it, he says, admits to committing a, quote, "serious crime" against North Korea.

But let's keep in mind here, North Korea has a long history of coercing false confessions.

Bae is a father of three. He was imprisoned back in November of 2012. At the time, he ran a company specializing in tours in North Korea.

Joining me now is Brian Todd. And, first, just, to the video, Brian, tell me exactly what he's saying and what is he asking the U.S. to do?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, Kenneth Bae says he wants the U.S. government to take action to secure his release.

As you say, he admits to serious crimes against North Korea, and as you pointed out, they do have a long history of extracting false confessions from their captives.

Now, Kenneth Bae has been held for 15 months after being convicted of trying to topple the North Korean government.

He ran a company specializing in tours of North Korea, but he also combined that with work spreading Christianity and the North Koreans saw that as a threat.

In this confession, Bae said he wants to be pardoned by North Korea and returned to his family.

He also said North Korea does not abuse human rights and he wants U.S. officials to stop saying that it does.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNETH BAE, AMERICAN IMPRISONED IN NORTH KOREA (via translator): I would like to plead with the U.S. government, press, and myself to stop worsening my situation by making vile rumors against North Korea and releasing materials related to me, which are not based on the facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Now, several analysts we spoke to say this confession could be a good sign, because it could mean the North Koreans are about to release Kenneth Bae.

His mother visited him in recent months. She says he's very ill with diabetes, an enlarged heart and other ailments.

Analysts say the North Koreans don't want Americans to die in their custody, that they've gotten all the propaganda use out of Kenneth Bae that they need and his release might be a way to get some concessions from the U.S., Brooke.

BALDWIN: But, again, Brian, context, because we've heard from Korean war veteran Merrill Newman. He was held by North Korea, also made a "confession," you know, to get his release, only to admit after the fact he had been forced.

How is the U.S. responding to what we've seen in the video?

TODD: That's might. Merrill Newman did confess to some alleged transgressions in late November. He was released about a week later, then he rescinded all of it.

As far as the U.S. response to Kenneth Bae, an administration official told us they are working actively to secure his release.

This official says they have actually offered to send Ambassador Robert King, the special envoy to North Korea, to Pyongyang to secure Bae's release. They've asked the North Koreans about this, and they are waiting for their response.

Things could get moving fairly soon on this -

BALDWIN: Brian Todd, thank you.

TODD: -- possibly.

BALDWIN: Possibly. Possibly. We'll watch for your full report on "The Situation Room" at 5:00 Eastern.

Coming up, an ambitious plan to land a spacecraft on a comet that's more than 500 million miles from Earth, we'll tell you how they're going to do that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: All right, more cold could be headed your way, a big winter storm warning for New York, much of the Northeast.

Chad Myers, we were talking over commercial break, to quote you, "cold, cold, cold."

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Another shot, like 20-below zero for wind chill factors behind the snow.

This was a winter storm watch this morning, which means something might develop.

Now it's a winter storm warning all the way through Connecticut, back through D.C., into Richmond, Virginia, right through Philadelphia, four to probably eight inches of snow, more as you get towards the coast.

There will actually be ocean-effect snow. We talk about lake-effect snow all the time, but the ocean will give up some moisture and dump the heaviest snow right along the coast.

D.C., probably four inches for you; a little bit farther to the north, Philadelphia, four to six; Atlantic City, could closer to eight, even though you're at the ocean, the ocean effect because you're closer.

There's the low. It just starts snowing in D.C. tomorrow morning. This is really an afternoon-type storm for New York City, for Philadelphia, for Long Island.

And Long Island, I tell you what, you could get 10 inches of snow.

And we talked about this a little second ago. Brooke, we're talking about, although maybe eight inches of snow in some cities, four to six, you may never see four to six. There'll be a two-foot drift and then there'll be nothing right next to it, because the wind is just going to blow this stuff around.

BALDWIN: OK. I have a feeling we'll be talking about that tomorrow.

But we have about 90 seconds to go. Can we please talk about this spacecraft that's landing on a comet. This is the Rosetta spacecraft.

What is Rosetta up to?

MYERS: Named after the Rosetta Stone, not so you can speak Spanish, it helped get the hieroglyphics kind of in order, 200 years ago when they found the Rosetta Stone.

This is Rosetta. They're going to land it on a comet, 67b, and they think just like Rosetta, this stone, figured out hieroglyphics, this might figure out how the Earth, how the galaxy, how the solar system, how everything out there was mad

It's going to go out there and fly close to 67b. It's going to put this little shuttle down to 67b and it's going to land there. There are many instruments on this. Those little instruments are going to send everything back from a 4.6-billion-year-old comet and we'll see what's on that comet, or what's in that comet, what's around that comet, how heavy it is, its mass, maybe even how it started, telling us the beginnings of the universe.

BALDWIN: Can I ask you, since I have a little more time, how big is a comet, for this thing to land on?

MYERS: And that's kind of the rub. This Rosetta guy has been up since 2003.

It was supposed to find another bigger comet, but didn't get shot up in time because they had problems getting the rocket up in space.

So, it's been sitting up there kind of looking at comets for 10 years. They --

BALDWIN: So it's ready to land on a comet is what you're telling me, Chad?

MTYERS: They woke it up today. They said, let's wake up, and it woke up.

And it's going to land on this thing, about the size of a football field.

BALDWIN: OK.

MYERS: It's going to be a little bit of work.

BALDWIN: Rosetta.

Chad Myers, thank you very much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: And thank all of you for watching. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

In the meantime, to Washington, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.