Damar Hamlin re-opened his eyes on Wednesday and was able to communicate for the first time since suffering cardiac arrest and collapsing during an NFL Monday Night Football game.
It’s the latest good news to emerge Thursday, as the NFL Network revealed earlier that Hamlin has been able to grip the hands of his loved ones from his hospital bed at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Dr. Timothy Pritts, who is overseeing Hamlin’s care, said the 24-year-old hasn’t spoken yet but is able to communicate by writing things down. His first question on Wednesday night after regaining consciousness was to ask if his Bills had beaten the Cincinnati Bengals.
“‘Who won the game?’” Hamlin asked, according to Pritts.
“Damar, you won,” the doctor responded. “You’ve won the game of life.”
Pritts said Hamlin’s opening question was proof that “all of the cylinders are firing” in his brain and that he’s recovering well.
The doctor said Hamlin is aware of the outpouring of support he’s received nationwide, and that he was “surprised he was not with the world for two days.”
A breathing tube will prevent Hamlin from being able to speak for the foreseeable future, Pritts said. But his communication through notes has been encouraging for his recovery.
“He’s made substantial improvement,” Pritts said. “It appears his neurological condition and function is intact. We are very proud to report that. … This marks a really good turning point in his ongoing care.”
In a statement of its own, the Buffalo Bills said Thursday that Hamlin has shown “remarkable improvement” in the last 24 hours and that his lungs “continue to heal.”
Despite Hamlin’s progress, however, the Bills acknowledged that Hamlin remains in critical condition and still has a long road to recovery ahead.
“While still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact,” a statement from the team said. “His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress.”
Hamlin has been hospitalized since he collapsed following a hit to his chest during the first quarter of Monday’s game—that was eventually suspended—against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field almost immediately after the hit, needing CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) to restore his heartbeat. He also required oxygen to continue breathing, family friend Jordon Rooney told ESPN on Wednesday.
Earlier Thursday morning, Hamlin’s teammate and fellow defensive back Kaiir Elam tweeted: “Our boy is doing better, awake and showing signs of improvement.”
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he spoke to Hamlin’s parents “at length.” It was the latest sign the entire country is behind Hamlin’s recovery—further proved by a GoFundMe in his name now eclipsing $7.1 million in donations.
“It’s been incredible,” Rooney said of the support. “It’s made a tough situation just a little bit easier.”
It remains unknown what exactly caused Hamlin’s collapse, as the NFL, his family and doctors in Cincinnati are yet to make an official statement on it.
Despite this, many medical experts have hypothesized that Hamlin suffered from “commotio cordis,” a rare condition that occurs when someone experiences chest trauma that causes additional waves of electricity to throw off a heart’s rhythm. The condition is often fatal, but can be survived with quick treatment like Hamlin received Monday.
The Daily Beast