Update: Damar Hamlin able to respond; he asked who won the game. Here’s the latest.
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has shown substantial improvement since his heart short-circuited during a tackle in a pivotal “Monday Night Football” game three days ago and plunged him into cardiac arrest, according to the members of the trauma team that has has treated him at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Hamlin remains in ICU but is showing “good signs” toward improvement, said Dr. William Knight IV, professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, director of the Emergency Medicine MLP Program.
“This marks a good turning point in his ongoing care,” said Knight, also the lead physician for the Cincinnati team of unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants, visiting team medical liaisons, and emergency medical services support, including on-field paramedics, airway management physicians and respiratory therapists.
Hamlin “still has significant progress that he has to make,” but this marks a turning point in his care, Dr. Timothy Pritts said.
The doctors provided a glimpse into the moments after he awakened.
Knight said Hamlin last night was able to “emerge to follow commands,” but that Hamlin cannot speak right now because he has a breathing tube down his throat.
After waking up, Hamlin wrote a question: Who won the game?
Knight responded: “Damar, You’ve won. You’ve won the game of life.”
“It appears all the cylinders are firing in his brain,” doctors say of Damar Hamlin’s neurological functions.
Hamlin’s agent, Ronald Butler, told The Associated Press that Hamlin was awake and has been able to grip the hands of family members at his hospital bedside.
Hamlin went into cardiac arrest at 8:55 p.m. Monday as he tackled Bengals receiver Tee Higgins from the front, right side. The angle brought Higgins’ helmet into direct contact with the left side of Hamlin’s chest as the two fell to the ground. Hamlin stood for a second before his knees buckled. He fell backward, landing on his back and the back of his own helmet.
The doctors also addressed speculation that Hamlin suffered from a rare episode of commotio cordis, which can cause cardiac arrest when the electrical system in the heart malfunctions because of damage to the heart, such as a sharp, sudden blow.
The University of Cincinnati Medical Center doctors who treated Hamlin said during the news conference that commotio cordis is on the list of possibilities for what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest, but that it has not yet been determined as the cause, and that they are working through all the possibilities.
He was taken by ambulance at 9:25 p.m. Monday to University at Cincinnati Medical Center, about five miles away.
The good news came as the Bills prepare to play a home game against the New England Patriots, and with the team still dealing with the shock of seeing their teammate collapse on the field.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick called the update on Hamlin’s health encouraging.
“Life is bigger than this game. And I think this is one of those humbling moments for all of us,” Belichick said.
As to how his players were dealing with preparations for the game scheduled for Sunday, he said they are navigating it by the moment.
“I think we’re all doing the best that we can,” Belichick said. “All of those questions are out of our control. I’m not going to worry about any of those. We’re trying to control what we can control. That’s what we’re doing here and how we’re doing it. And we’re doing the best we can.”