Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is awake.
Hamlin’s agent Rob Butler said Thursday the NFL player is conscious and “holding hands with family in hospital,” according to CNN.
The announcement came shortly after the Bills shared an update from Hamlin’s physicians, who said he has made “remarkable improvement” over the past 24 hours.
In a statement shared by the team on Thursday, the Bills revealed that Hamlin, 24, is still critically ill, but appears to be “neurologically intact.”
The NFL team also mentioned the lung damage Hamlin sustained as a result of his injury. Hamlin’s uncle told reporters earlier this week that the athlete, who is in the intensive care unit, was intubated and “flipped over on his stomach” to help take pressure off his lungs.
The Bills said Hamlin is making “steady progress.” This aligns with earlier statements from Hamlin’s family, who said the defensive football player was intubated at a 50 per cent assistance rate on Wednesday, an improvement from the 100 per cent assistance he received when he arrived in hospital.
Hamlin had to be resuscitated on the football field after he suffered cardiac arrest during the Monday night showdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. The injury occurred after Hamlin tackled Bengals receiver Tee Higgins.
The play was not particularly violent or out of the ordinary. When Hamlin tackled, Higgins’ right shoulder hit Hamlin in the chest. Hamlin then wrapped his arms around Higgins’ shoulders and helmet to drag him down. Hamlin quickly got to his feet, appeared to adjust his face mask with his right hand, and then fell backward onto the field, where he lay motionless.
Hamlin lay on the football field for several minutes as he received medical attention. In an emotional display, several other Bills players shielded Hamlin from public view.
Hamlin’s shocking in-game collapse triggered a wave of concern and sympathy from NFL fans and beyond.
Even U.S. President Joe Biden is concerned for Hamlin’s health. On Wednesday, the president told reporters that he spoke to Hamlin’s mother and father “at length” about the athlete’s condition.
Biden did not mention the specifics of his conversation with Hamlin’s parents.
The president was later asked about player safety in the NFL but said he did not believe football was becoming too dangerous.
Instead, the president suggested there be improved safety gear and protocol for NFL players.
“I think working like hell on the helmets, the concussion protocols … that all makes a lot of sense,” Biden said. “But it’s, you know, it is dangerous. You gotta just acknowledge it.”
On Tuesday, Hamlin’s family released a statement to express their “sincere gratitude” for the widespread support of Hamlin.
“We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words, and donations from fans around the country,” the statement reads.
Since his collapse, a GoFundMe page previously established by Hamlin for his Chasing M’s Foundation has reached more than US$7 million in donations as of Thursday morning. The GoFundMe page was created by Hamlin with the original goal of $2,500 to support his mother’s daycare program in Pittsburgh.
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