Damar Hamlin is progressing “remarkably” and talking to doctors and his family after having his breathing tube removed overnight, the Buffalo Bills have announced.
“His neurological function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team,” the National Football League team said on Friday, citing an update from his physicians at the University of Cincinnati medical center.
The Bills also said on social media that the 24-year-old safety appeared at their team meeting on Friday via FaceTime to talk with players and coaches.
“To see Damar with my own eyes, to watch the reaction in the room with the players, the staff … they stood up and clapped for him,” the Bills head coach, Sean McDermott, told the media on Friday. “It was not a long interaction, but he made a heart symbol, and said ‘I love you, boys.’
Hamlin collapsed after making a tackle in the first quarter of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, suffering a cardiac arrest. He had to have his heartbeat restored on the field in a scene that stunned fellow players, coaches and millions of NFL fans.
Physicians on Thursday said Hamlin was “demonstrating signs of good neurological recovery” but that it was too soon to comment on his long-term medical prognosis.
The frightening incident has prompted a huge outpouring of support from fans and the wider football community. Donations to an online toy drive fundraiser that Hamlin launched in December 2020 have soared, raising more than $7.8m as of Friday.
Thursday’s update from physicians said Hamlin had asked in writing who had won Monday’s game. Their response was “Damar, you won – you won the game of life,” said Dr Timothy Pritts. “It’s not only that the lights are on – he’s home”, Pritts said. “It appears all cylinders are firing within his brain, which is greatly gratifying.”
An emotional Bills quarterback Josh Allen told reporters on Thursday about receiving word their teammate was awake and thinking of them. “His dad said the first thing he is going to ask when he wakes up is who won the game,” Allen said. “Sure enough, that’s what he did.”
The NFL said on Thursday that the game between the Bills and Bengals, which was abandoned, would not be resumed or replayed, with both teams poised to make an impact in the playoffs. The Bills are set to play the New England Patriots as the regular season concludes on Sunday, having already secured a playoff spot.
The Bills, Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs are all still in contention to be the No 1 seed in the AFC. The NFL competition committee outlined plans to potentially play the AFC Championship game at a neutral venue if deemed necessary, with owners giving their approval to the plans on Friday.