Four days after arriving in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Bills safety Damar Hamlin continues to be on the road to a “remarkable” recovery, doctors announced Thursday. Hamlin, 24, suffered cardiac arrest after a tackle in Monday’s game against the Bengals, requiring CPR and resuscitation before being taken by ambulance to the hospital’s intensive care unit.
On Friday, the Bills provided a positive update on Hamlin, saying his breathing tube was removed, indicating he is breathing on his own. The team added that Hamlin “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,” per the physicians at UCMC.
The Bills shared another positive update Saturday, via the UC Medical Center.
Hamlin spent Friday morning talking to teammates on FaceTime and joined the Bills for their team meeting. The Bills tweeted that Hamlin’s message to Buffalo was, “Love you boys.”
This comes one day after Dr. Timothy Pritts, of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center told reporters that Hamlin had began to awaken.
“We had significant concern about him after the injury, but he is making substantial progress,” Pritts told reporters via conference call Thursday.
Hamlin remains under care by the hospital’s ICU staff, neurocritical care teams, trauma surgery personnel and cardiologists. He still has “significant progress he needs to make,” Dr. William Knight IV added, “but this marks a really good turning point in his ongoing care. … It’s been a long and difficult road for the past few days. He has been very sick (but) has made a fairly remarkable improvement.”
Dr. Pritts said that for Hamlin to be upgraded to stable condition, he’ll have to have the breathing tube taken out while his neurological function continues to improve. For now, he remains in critical condition, but he’s improving.
Previously sedated, Hamlin regained consciousness overnight Thursday and responded to commands while communicating to doctors through writing. At that time, he had not spoken because he still required assistance to breathe, but answered and asked questions upon waking, including asking a bedside nurse whether Buffalo won Monday’s game against the Bengals.
The doctors’ response, Pritts said, “was, ‘Yes, Damar. You’ve won. You’ve won the game of life.”
Dr. Knight said the “workup is ongoing” to determine exactly what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest during Monday’s game. (An unaffiliated NFL cardiologist told CBS Sports this week that such incidents can be triggered by a variety of issues, including genetic heart conditions.) In the meantime, the hospital staff is still working to improve Hamlin’s ability to breathe on his own, which must be achieved before his ventilator use can conclude. It’s too early to say if Hamlin will play football again, the doctors explained, but the ultimate goal is to have the former Pittsburgh standout improve to the point he can return home.
The doctors also credited the NFL and team medical personnel for the immediate and effective response to Hamlin on the field in Monday’s game, acknowledging the incident could’ve unfolded very differently if not for prompt action.