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Damar Hamlin showing "remarkable improvement," Buffalo Bills say

Damar Hamlin showing "remarkable improvement"
Damar Hamlin awake and showing "remarkable improvement" 02:09

Damar Hamlin is "making steady progress" and "appears to be neurologically intact," while still hospitalized in critical condition following a cardiac arrest that caused him to collapse on the field during a game in Cincinnati on Monday night, the Buffalo Bills said in a statement Thursday morning. Hamlin, who is 24, is a safety in his second season with the team.

"Per the physicians caring for Damar Hamlin at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Damar has shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours," the Bills said. "While still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact. His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress."

The team is "grateful for the love and support" that it is has received since Hamlin's televised collapse and hospital transfer earlier this week ushered in an outpouring of concerned messages online.

Hamlin's teammate Kaiir Elam, a cornerback for the Buffalo Bills, also shared a positive update in a tweet posted minutes before the one from the Bills. Elam said Hamlin was awake and improving.

"Our boy is doing better, awake and showing more signs of improvement," Elam wrote, adding, "Thank you God. Keep the prayers coming please. All love 3!"

At a Thursday afternoon press conference, Bills head coach Sean McDermott said the news the team has received is "very encouraging." He noted that the Bills have been getting periodic updates from the doctors at UC Medical Center, who have been relaying information to two of the team's trainers who stayed behind in Cincinnati with Hamlin. The doctors said at a separate briefing Thursday that Hamlin was "beginning to awaken."

"The news we received today in particular was a huge lift," McDermott said. 

McDermott also praised the actions of team assistant trainer Denny Kellington, who rendered aid to Hamlin on the field. 

"For an assistant to find himself at that position and needing to take the action that he did and step up and take charge like he did — and there were others on the field as well — is nothing short of amazing," McDermott said. "And the courage that took, you talk about a real leader, a real hero, in saving Damar's life. I just admire his strength."

Quarterback Josh Allen also spoke about how the updates on Hamlin's condition over the last day have lifted the team's spirits. 

"We're just happy Damar's all right," he said, adding later there had been "a lot of tears of joy."

Hamlin was admitted to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after being rushed by ambulance from Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. With a little over six minutes left in the first quarter, viewers saw Hamlin collapse following a tackle where he appeared to take a hit from the Bengals' wide receiver Tee Higgins. 

His heart stopped and Hamlin was quickly given CPR on the field before his hospital transport, the Bills said in a statement released early Tuesday. 

"Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit in the Buffalo Bills' game versus the Cincinnati Bengals," the team said at the time. "His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for further testing and treatment."

Hamlin's uncle, Dorrian Glenn, said Tuesday night that Hamlin's heart actually stopped twice — once on the field when they resuscitated him and again at the hospital, "and they had to hit him with the defibrillator."

Hamlin's condition was listed as critical, although few additional details were released regarding the player's health status or factors that may have caused the cardiac arrest. CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus explained that blunt force trauma to the chest area "in the exact right spot, at the exact right moment during his heartbeat" could have led to an arrhythmia, which is an irregular heart rhythm that disrupts the normal flow of blood to the brain.

Bills Hamlin
Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin on Dec. 1, 2022 Greg M. Cooper / AP

The Bills previously reported improvements in Hamlin's condition in an update shared Wednesday afternoon.

"Damar remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight," the team said at that time. "He is expected to remain under intensive care as his health care team continues to monitor and treat him."

The current NFL season was Hamlin's first as a starter with the Buffalo Bills, after playing 14 games during his rookie season in a reserve role. He joined the team by selection during the 2021 NFL Draft, coming off of a successful college football career at the University of Pittsburgh.

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