NFL player Damar Hamlin, who plays for the Buffalo Bills, collapsed on the field mid-game while playing against the Cincinnati Bengal. Just seconds before, he had just tackled the shoulder of Tee Higgins, the Bengal’s wide receiver. After standing up briefly, he collapsed on the field.
Almost immediately, medical staff members were by his side administering CPR; they also used an AED to restart his heart. According to an official statement from the Bills, they were successfully able to restore his heartbeat. Hamlin was subsequently taken to a local hospital, where he remained in critical condition.
While details are still emerging, doctors have stated that the most likely explanation is commotio cordis, a very rare condition that occurs after an individual suffers a sudden blunt impact to the chest. If the trauma is severe enough and occurs at a specific time in the heart cycle, it can cause electricity to flow from one side of the heart to the other. This can send the heart into ventricular fibrillation, a type of irregular heart rhythm that can be fatal without immediate treatment.
With commotio cordis, the heart must be shocked back into a normal rhythm. Fortunately for Hamlin, medical staff arrived within seconds and he was given CPR right away. An AED was also available to shock his heart.
Two days after the incident, it was reported that Hamlin was awake and “neurologically sound.” Doctors also stated that he’s able to move his hands and feet, news that drew joy and relief from fans nationwide.
According to Dr. Timothy Pritts, the NFL player’s first question was “did we win?”, which he scribbled on a clipboard. He was subsequently told yes—that “[he] had “won the game of life.”
While he has shown significant signs of improvement over the last 24 hours, the 24-year-old remains on a ventilator and has been communicating by writing brief notes and by shaking or nodding his head. Not only that but he has also been able to hold hands with his family at the hospital, according to his agent Ron Butler.
According to UC Health, they will not be discharging him from the hospital until he’s able to completely breathe on his own, something that will require many days of treatment and recovery.
Hamlin’s father, Mario, has also talked to the team via Zoom and has said that his son is making good progress, which many of his teammates found to be both emotional and encouraging. Since then, the Bills have announced that they plan on holding their first news conference since the incident on Thursday afternoon.
As for whether or not the game from Monday will be resumed, no official decision has been made.