KYTX -- Prison officials say Polygamist Sect Leader Warren Jeffs was never in a coma.
"Although some reports had stated he was in a medically induced coma that was not the case although he was sedated," TDCJ Spokesperson Michelle Lyons said. "He has been responsive today."
The 55 year old is serving life in prison for sexually assaulting two underage girls. He was life-flighted at noon Tuesday from ETMC in Tyler to the UTMB Prison Hospital in Galveston. Jeffs had been at ETMC since Sunday when he was rushed there because medical staff became concerned about his health.
"He was taking in some fluids and some food but he was not eating enough or drinking enough," Lyons said.
Lyons, with the Texas prison system, says Jeffs had been fasting and told prison officials he was not on a hunger strike. But if prisoners go on a hunger strike the prison says it can take action.
"We do have a policy in place where medical professionals can evaluate the situation and if it's medically necessary they can move to force feed the inmate," Lyons said.
Court documents show in the past, Jeffs lost 30 pounds, was dehydrated and suffering from sleep deprivation. Jeffs also had to be temporarily force-fed in 2009 while in Kingman, Arizona. With certain medical conditions eating and drinking is vital according to Dr. Mike McCrady, who did not treat Jeffs.
"People really get in trouble when they have a combination of no food intake and no liquid intake," McCrady said. "Very shortly that will cause problems usually within in 24 to 48 hours."
And since Jeffs had other medical problems, not drinking and eating may have exacerbated his condition. Not to mention, his prison cell was not air conditioned.
"If your not taking in enough, particularly if you have an illness, you can develop these electrolyte abnormalities and then your kidney function can begin to get bad," McCrady said. "Things can go from bad to worse very rapidly when a person is dehydrated, particularly in a heat environment."
Jeffs is expected to make a full recovery and will remain in the prison hospital in Galveston until he's ready to be put back in a TDCJ facility.