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The first week of 2023 began with NFL star Damar Hamlin collapsing on the field while his Buffalo Bills played at the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hamlin was tackled during a play in the first quarter of the game on Monday night (Jan 2). He got up immediately and then collapsed. He received immediate medical attention by paramedics who administered CPR for several minutes. It’s been reported he was down “for at least 15 minutes.” He was then taken off the field in an ambulance and taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
That night they inserted a breathing tube and sedated him. The Buffalo Bills revealed that Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest. Each night Hamlin was sedated, he was showing “remarkable improvements,” per statements from friends, family members, and doctors.
On Wednesday (Jan. 4), the Bills released the following statement:
In an update on Thursday morning (Jan. 5), the Buffalo Bills tweeted that “Damar has shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours. 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.”
Just several minutes later, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that Hamlin “opened his eyes last night and is responsive.”
Hamlin’s teammate Kaiir Elam also provided an update, saying, “Our boy is doing better, awake and showing more signs of improvement. Thank you God. Keep the prayers coming please. All love 3!”
CNN reports that Hamlin’s agent told them the NFL star is awake and “has been holding hands with family in the hospital.”
On Wednesday (Jan. 5), Adam Schefter reported that Mario Hamlin, Damar’s father, had a Zoom call with the entire Bills team to update them on Damar’s progress.
“In the words of one source, ‘the team needed it,'” he wrote.
Well, the improvements kept on coming! On Friday (Jan 6), the Bills said, “Per the physicians at UCMC, Damar’s breathing tube was removed overnight. He continues to progress remarkably in his recovery. His neurologic function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team.”
Not only that, but he also FaceTimed into the Buffalo Bills’ team meeting to talk with his teammates and coaches! Per a tweet from the Bills, he told them, “Love you boys.”
All of Hamlin’s progress could not have happened if the Bills’ medical staff hadn’t worked as fast and as well as they did on the field Monday night, specifically assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington. He jumped in very quickly to administer CPR to Hamlin.
His name has been circulating on Twitter, hailing him as a hero. See a few of those tweets below.
According to sports and business expert Joe Pomliano, Hamlin had a pulse after he collapsed, but then lost it. That’s when Kellington stepped in, “ultimately saving [Hamlin’s] life.”
Front Office Sports reports that Kellington’s “speed and skill were ‘absolutely vital.'”
During a press conference on Thursday (Jan. 5), Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott told reporters that the athletic training staff and medical team always goes through “exercises, mock exercises” to prepare themselves for any situation on the field. They had practiced this exact scenario before, but of course the coaching staff and team never sees it. So when it did happen, Kellington knew exactly what to do and stepped in, even though there were more senior members of the training staff in the same vicinity.
McDermott said, “When you talk about a real leader, a real hero, in saving Damar’s life,” that’s when you talk about Denny Kellington.