Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is said to be making “substantial progress” after he went into cardiac arrest on Monday night following a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals. Hamlin’s breathing tube was removed Thursday night and he was able to FaceTime on Friday morning, ESPN reports.
“Love you, boys,” Hamlin told the team.
The continued progress comes after Dr. William Knight IV and Dr. Timothy Pritts of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center provided an update on Hamlin’s condition during a Thursday press conference.
“We had significant concern about him after the injury and after the event that happened on the field, but he is making substantial progress,” Dr. Pritts said. “As of this morning, he is beginning to awaken and it appears that his neurological condition and function is intact.”
Hamlin, 24, will continue to remain in the surgical and trauma ICU at the UC Medical Center and is being treated by the neurocritical care, trauma surgery, and a cardiology teams, Dr. Pritts said.
“It’s been a long and difficult road for the last three days,” Dr. Knight added. “He has been very sick and has made a fairly remarkable recovery and improvement.”
The news that Hamlin was awake was first shared by the Bills cornerback Kaiir Elam on Twitter, KTLA reported. “Our boy is doing better, awake and showing more signs of improvement. Thank you God. Keep the prayers coming please. All love 3!,” Elam wrote.
Our boy is doing better, awake and showing more signs of improvement. Thank you God. Keep the prayers coming please. All love 3!
— Kaiir Elam (@kaiirelam5) January 5, 2023
The doctors praised the efforts of the emergency response teams that aided Hamlin on the field. “As everyone knows, Mr. Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field and it was promptly recognized by the Buffalo Bills medical staff,” said Knight. “That allowed for a very immediate resuscitation on the field.”
“While still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact,” the Buffalo Bills tweeted on Thursday. “His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress.”
Before Hamlin’s breathing tube was removed, he was able to communicate through writing, asking those around him whether the Bills had won. “When he asked, ‘Did we win?’ the answer is, ‘Yes, you know, Damar, you won,’” Dr. Pritts recalled. “You’ve won the game of life.”
Hamlin’s collapse shocked the NFL with one of the most serious field injuries in recent memory. After taking a hit to the chest, Hamlin fell over backwards, lost consciousness and had to receive CPR for nine minutes. The game was suspended. No decision has been made whether the game will be rescheduled.
“The NFL has made no decision regarding the possible resumption of the game at a later date,” the league said in a press release. “After speaking with both teams and NFLPA leadership, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell informed the clubs today that the Bills-Bengals game will not be resumed this week.”
As Hamlin continues to be treated in the hospital, the Bills have returned to practice to prepare for their Sunday game against the New England Patriots as the playoffs loom later this month.
Sunday will also be a day marked by festivities in Buffalo and across the league. The Bills will be honoring first responders and team trainers, ESPN reports, while other clubs are planning various ways to show that they’re thinking about their injured colleague—for instance, teams at home and away will be outlining the “3” (Hamlin’s number) on each 30-yard-line in a Bills color.
“It’s going to be a celebration of life and an ongoing life,” said Bills GM Brandon Beane. “Just a celebration that this is not only going to be a celebration in Buffalo but the whole country and I’m sure people internationally that have watched this situation. I’m sure it’s going to be a great seat if you’ve got a ticket to come here and just to be a part of this atmosphere. The hair on the back of my neck is standing up right now thinking about it.”
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