Buffalo Bill’s safety Damar Hamlin returned to practice 106 days after suffering cardiac arrest on live television during Monday Night football, and his doctors credited the Buffalo Bills medical team for making his comeback possible.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane announced that Hamlin was medically cleared to resume playing professional football on Tuesday.
“He’s such a great kid and has such a great family, and it’s exciting to go from a guy who was fighting for his life to now,” Beane remarked.
“His story hasn’t been written. Now it’s about his comeback.”
Hamlin discussed his intention to play in the upcoming NFL season on the same day, and revealed that he suffered from commotio cordis, which caused cardiac arrest during the Bills’ last regular season game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“It’s a direct blow at a specific point in your heartbeat that causes cardiac arrest,” he explained to reporters after Tuesday’s practice.
“Five to seven seconds later, you fall out and that’s pretty much what everyone was seeing January 2 of this year.”
Hamlin tackled Bengals wide-out Tee Higgins in the first quarter of the game, then collapsed after getting to his feet.
He was resuscitated on the field as teammates and competitors surrounded him for long, agonizing minutes, then rushed to a local hospital.
Hamlin told reporters that he “died on national TV,’ but would be using the experience to help prevent future generations from going through the same ordeal by raising awareness through his foundation.
“Commotio cordis is the leading cause of death in youth athletes across all sports,” he remarked. “So that’s something I will personally be taking a step in to make a change.”
Hamlin’s treating doctor, emergency room physician Dr. Bill Knight, said the immediate CPR the NFL player received on the field is the reason he’s still alive and able to play.
“Commotio cordis, as Damar noted yesterday, is a direct blunt trauma often to the front of the chest, which causes an interruption of the heart cycle, which is driven by electrical signals,” Dr. Knight told Good Morning America.
He noted that when the electrical signals get interrupted, the heart can stop beating, and requires CPR and emergency defibrillation to get started again.
“That’s what happened in this case is immediate bystander CPR and the electricity with the defibrillation to get the heart started again to get that blood flowing again,” he explained.
“Without that immediate bystander CPR, it’s deadly and people die. It’s the number one cause of death in young athletes,” Dr. Knight continued.
When GMA anchor George Stephanopoulos asked if three months was too soon to return to practice after a near death experience, Knight said it was “hard to tell,” but that Hamlin’s recovery was “amazing.”
“Credit really to the Bills’ amazing medical team,” Knight added. “It’s awesome. It’s awesome that he’s at that point that he can be cleared to begin that next stage of his journey.”