Damar Hamlin's Doctor Says Buffalo Bills Player Is "Beginning to Awaken" After Cardiac Arrest

Days after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during the team's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, his doctors at UC Health provided an update on his condition. Read more.

By Elyse Dupre Jan 05, 2023 9:55 PMTags
Watch: NFL Star Damar Hamlin Awake & Communicating After Cardiac Arrest

New details regarding Damar Hamlin's condition have emerged. 

Three days after the Buffalo Bills safety went into cardiac arrest during a game, his physicians Dr. Timothy Pritts and Dr. William Knight IV of UC Health provided an update on his health.

"We would like to share that there has been substantial improvement in his condition over the past 24 hours," Pritts, Division Chief of General Surgery, said during a Jan. 5 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. As of this morning, he is beginning to awaken, and it appears that his neurological condition and function is intact."

While Pritts noted they are happy to report this improvement, he suggested the athlete still has a long road ahead of him.

"He continues to be critically ill and continues to undergo intensive care in our surgical and trauma ICU," Pritts continued. "He is being cared for by ICU neurocritical care teams, trauma surgery and a cardiology team as well as our expert nurses and respiratory therapist. They are attending to him, and he still has significant progress that he needs to make. But this marks a really good turning point in his ongoing care."

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As for the signs that Hamlin's neurological condition and function are intact, Pritts shared that the NFL player "was able to emerge and follow commands" last night and even asked in writing who won the game, which was postponed following his collapse.

"To paraphrase one of our partners, when he asked, 'Did we win?' the answer is 'Yes, Damar. You won. You've won the game of life,'" he said. "And that's probably the most important thing out of this and we really need to keep him at the center of everything else that's going on. And we really want to ensure a good outcome for him."

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Pritts also shared that Hamlin is moving his hands and feet. However, he added that the 24-year-old is not speaking yet as he's still using a breathing tube.

In terms of next steps, Pritts said the medical team would like to see Hamlin start breathing on his own. As for when Hamlin may be able to return to the football field, Knight said "it's entirely too early to have that conversation."

Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest after a hit during the Buffalo Bills' game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on Jan. 2. The NFL noted he received "immediate medical attention on the field by team and independent medical staff and local paramedics" after his collapse. Hamlin's doctors praised the quick medical intervention following his on-field collapse. 

"It was promptly recognized by the Buffalo Bills' medical staff and that allowed for a very immediate resuscitation on the field," Knight, the Director of the Emergency Medicine MLP Program, said. "He was promptly resuscitated. It did require CPR and defibrillation, and at which point he was transported to University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he was met by Dr. Pritts and the trauma team as well as our Emergency Medicine colleagues. He was managed and resuscitated and worked up in the emergency department, had some additional tests in the ED and in the hospital and then has been managed in the surgical ICU."

And when Knight was asked if the medical team could feel the prayers and support sent their and Hamlin's way, he said they did.

"Have we felt it? Yeah," he replied. "It doesn't take long to look outside and see the lights, the blue and the red, around the city of Cincinnati, the support from local restaurants, the support from the fans and just people who are concerned. So yes, it's been very powerful."

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