The afternoon after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during a prime-time NFL game, there was little news of note to report about Hamlin’s condition. Several days later, we have an update on his recovery.
Damar Hamlin Medical Update
The Buffalo Bills released a statement on Thursday morning saying, “Per the physicians caring for Damar Hamlin at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Damar has shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours. While still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact. His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress. We are grateful for the love and support we have received.”
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport also noted that “Damar Hamlin has been gripping the hands of those close to him. Another very positive sign.”
On Thursday afternoon, members of the medical team treating Hamlin at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center held a press conference for media members. They noted that they do not have definitive answers yet about what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest.
Regardless of what caused it, the doctors articulated how critical of a situation Monday night was — if medical staffers had taken a few extra minutes — or even seconds — to get to Hamlin, the outcome could have been different. Dr. William Knight said it was less than a minute from the event to the immediate bystander CPR. Dr. Knight also noted that Hamlin had a pulse, then lost it while surrounded by medical personnel. That then resulted in immediate CPR.
“We cannot credit the Bills medical team enough. It’s rare to have something this serious to happen and to recognize it so quickly,” Dr. Knight said.
Dr. Timothy Pritts said that Hamlin has “made substantial improvement. It appears his neurological condition and function is intact. We are very proud to report that. … This marks a really good turning point in his ongoing care.”
According to his medical team, Hamlin was able to follow directions when asked to do so. Doctors recalled the story of Hamlin asking (through writing because he still has a breathing tube in) who won Monday night’s game. Doctors told him, “You won. You won the game of life.”
When asked about Hamlin’s long-term recovery prospects, doctors wouldn’t comment on that, simply noting that they were focused on the moment and that the best outcome would be who he was before this happened. As to whether he will play football again, doctors said, “it’s entirely too early to have the conversation.”
On Friday morning, the Buffalo Bills tweeted, “Per the physicians at UCMC, Damar’s breathing tube was removed overnight. He continues to progress remarkably in his recovery. His neurologic function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team.”
Ian Rapoport added that Hamlin spent the morning Facetiming teammates and also delivered a message to the entire team.
What Happened to Damar Hamlin?
During Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Hamlin received life-saving care near midfield for the better part of 20 minutes after collapsing following a tackle. A devastating scene played out on national television, with the Bills and Bengals visibly shaken by what they had witnessed.
The NFL ultimately decided to suspend the game and announced Tuesday that there was no plan at this time to resume it. Week 18 will proceed as scheduled. As of publish time, there was still no decision on what would happen with the Bills and Bengals game.
The NFL released the following statement upon the game being postponed: “Tonight’s Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game has been postponed after Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin collapsed, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced. “Hamlin received immediate medical attention on the field by team and independent medical staff and local paramedics. He was then transported to a local hospital where he is in critical condition…”
The NFL Players Association said, “The NFLPA and everyone in our community is praying for Damar Hamlin. We have been in touch with Bills and Bengals players, and with the NFL. The only thing that matters at this moment is Damar’s health and well being. “Never before have I ever witnessed anything like this.”
Hamlin is in his second year out of Pittsburgh. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2021 draft and was expected to have a limited role this year. That changed when Micah Hyde suffered a season-ending injury early in the season. Hamlin was inserted into the starting lineup in Week 3 and has blossomed into an excellent player.