Buffalo Bills’ defensive back Damar Hamlin had to be taken off the field on a stretcher on Monday in a frightening incident that has united people across the country in support of his recovery.
The horrifying collapse — which was caused by Hamlin suffering cardiac arrest due to blunt force trauma to his chest — lead to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals being officially postponed until further notice, and Hamlin being rushed to the hospital, where he remains in critical condition.
In the wake of his injury, fans have held vigils outside his hospital, donating millions of dollars to a toy drive fundraiser he’d been hosting, and shared their love, support, grief and encouragement on social media.
ET is taking a look at the frightening incident, and how everything has unfolded in the days since he was rushed off the field.
During the first quarter of Monday’s match-up, Hamlin tackled Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, and both men appeared to be uninjured following the tackle. However, shortly after, Damar appeared to stumble and collapse on the field.
Medical personnel rushed out onto the field with a stretcher to get Hamlin out of the stadium to receive medical treatment. An ambulance was driven onto the field to attend to Hamlin, and medics were forced to give the 24-year-old athlete CPR.
He was then placed on a stretcher, given oxygen and taken to the hospital via ambulance.
The immediate Aftermath
Players from both teams appeared to be deeply shaken, with many on the Bills moved to tears by the frightening incident. The team held a group prayer after Hamlin was taken off the field.
After consulting with the coaches for both teams, Sean McDermott and Zac Taylor, the game has been suspended until further notice. The announcement was made in the stadium, where many fans were shocked and left silent by the turn of events.
Not long after Hamlin’s collapse, and in the wake of pressure from players on both teams, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also confirmed the official postponement of the game due to the circumstances.
“Tonight’s Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game has been postponed after Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin collapsed,” Goodell announced. “Hamlin received immediate medical attention on the field by team and independent medical staff and local paramedics. He was then transported to a local hospital where he is in critical condition. Our thoughts are with Damar and the Buffalo Bills. We will provide more information as it becomes available. The NFL has been in constant communication with the NFL Players Association which is in agreement with postponing the game.”
According to Hamlin’s uncle, Dorrian Glenn, Hamlin, who has been sedated and in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center since Monday, had to be resuscitated twice due to his injuries.
“His heart had went out so they had to resuscitate him twice,” Glenn told CNN’s Adrienne Broaddus outside the hospital on Tuesday. “They resuscitated him on the field before they brought him to the hospital and then they resuscitated him a second time when they got him to the hospital.”
“I’m just glad he’s still alive and able to fight and trying to get better and recover,” Glenn said. “They sedated him just to give a better chance for him to just continue to heal better. We are just taking it day by day. It seems like he’s trending upwards in a positive way.”
In addition to being sedated, Hamlin has also been on a ventilator to help with his breathing after sustaining damage to his lungs following Monday night’s tackle. Both Hamlin’s parents, who were at the game when he collapsed, have been the Buffalo Bills DB’s side as he receives treatment.
The Injury Explained
ET spoke with Dr. Merije T. Chukumerije, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Beverly Hills, California, about what could have led to the 24-year-old NFL star’s cardiac arrest and what his chances of survival are following the scary incident.
“So, on the field yesterday, what we saw was a player who had a direct impact to the middle of his chest, and this is what we consider blunt trauma. And sports is one area that we see that happen often, but we also see it in everyday life,” Chukumerije explained. “So, when someone has a sudden impact or blunt trauma to the chest, if it happens at a specific part of the cardiac cycle, then that can lead to a ventricular arrhythmia or an unstable heart arrhythmia, which can ultimately lead to sudden cardiac arrest and unfortunately sudden cardiac death.”
“There are many different things that can cause cardiac arrest, and again, in sports cardiology, one of the most important things we look at are the different causes of sudden cardiac arrest, there are so many some people — [you] may have heard of some structural problems, meaning that the heart is formed incorrectly, that’s things like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or other conditions when somebody has an enlarged heart or a thick heart,” he said. “There are also electrical problems with a heart that can cause someone to go into sudden cardiac arrest, these are ecthymas or ventricular fibrillation/ventricular tachycardia. People may have heard of those terms, and then there are other acquired conditions, such as trauma.”
Chukumerije continued, “And this situation, I think from the limited information that we have and watching the video, it looks like the mechanism of arrest in Damar Hamlin was a direct impact to the center of his chest, which unfortunately happened at a perfect time when his heart was trying to relax, and that is what lead to the sudden cardiac arrest.”
Chances of Survival
According to Chukumerije, “His young age is the best thing he has going for him, ’cause he actually has a better chance of survival because of that. And the fact that he’s young and he’s healthy. However, his young age did not have anything to do with what happened to him, and in this situation, it’s likely just the bad timing of the impact to his chest, which these players put themselves at risk for each time.”
“Now, we do know that most athletes that are in professional or collegiate leagues are at the age of 18 to 35 years old, and that is a particular age group where we see the most sudden cardiac arrest occur in athletes, so yes, he fits that age range of people that are the highest risk as athletes, but his age is actually the best thing going for him as far as potential recovery,” he adds.
Chukumerije is hopeful that Hamlin will not only survive but recover.
“The fact that he did subsequently get CPR, and from what we were told, that he had his rhythm restored, that also bodes well for his survival, so when we see these things that happen immediately, that is when we know whether someone is going to have a positive or negative trajectory, and thankfully from what I saw, I am hopeful that he will have a positive trajectory,” Chukumerije says.
On Tuesday, Hamlin’s family released an official statement, shared by Hamlin’s spokesperson, Jordon Rooney.
“On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time,” the statement read. “We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words and donations from fans around the country.”
The family’s statement went on to thank the medical professionals who assisted after the incident, saying, “We also want to acknowledge the dedicated first responders and healthcare professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who have provided exceptional care to Damar. We feel so blessed to be part of the Buffalo Bills organization and to have their support. We also want to thank Coach Taylor and the Bengals for everything they’ve done.”
Hamlin’s family statement ended with a request for more prayers and a note that further updates would be provided as they come in. “Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us,” the statement read. “Please keep Damar in your prayers. We will release updates as soon as we have them. Thank you, The Hamlin Family.”
Sports figures and celebrities have offered their well-wishes in droves, taking to social media to share their sympathy for the injured safety. “Bills Mafia is with you,” the official Twitter account for the Buffalo Bills posted on Monday.
On Tuesday, in a show of solidarity, all 32 NFL teams changed their Twitter profile pictures to support Hamlin, with the NFL’s Twitter account proclaiming that “Football is family.” The pictures featured Hamlin’s jersey number, with the words Pray for Damar.
Toy Drive Donations
In the wake of Hamlin’s hospitalization, attention has been directed toward a community toy drive’s GoFundMe campaign, which Hamlin had organized. The original goal was set at $2,500 — and as of Wednesday evening had raised a staggering $6.7 million.
“This fundraiser was initially established to support a toy drive for Damar’s community, sponsored by the Chasing M’s Foundation. However, it has received renewed support in light of Damar’s current battle and we can’t thank all of you enough. Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us,” the campaign shared in an update on Wednesday.
Signs of Improvement
The Bills shared an update on Hamlin Wednesday, in which they revealed that the 24-year-old NFL star is showing signs of improvement since suffering a cardiac arrest during the game.
“Damar remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight,” the team’s tweet read. “He is expected to remain under intensive care as his health care team continues to monitor and treat him.”
Hamlin’s agent, Ron Butler also shared an update Wednesday, telling ET, “Damar is still in ICU, but we are seeing progress. Definitely appreciate the outpour of support from so many different people across the country. Thank you for all the prayers.”
Source: ET Online