NFL star and Buffalo Bills safety, Damar Hamlin has made “substantial improvement” in the hospital following his mid-game cardiac arrest and is now communicating with doctors in writing.
Hamlin is able to communicate by shaking his head, nodding or writing brief notes, said Dr. Timothy Pritts, part of the player’s medical team. Upon awakening, Pritts said, Hamlin’s mind was still on the game as he scribbled his first question on a clipboard: “Did we win?”
“So, we know that it’s not only that the lights are on, we know that he’s home. And that it appears all cylinders are firing within his brain,” said Pritts, who is vice chair for clinical operations at University of Cincinnati Health where Hamlin is being treated.
Hamlin, who had to be sedated and intubated following his collapse is still critically ill and remains on a ventilator, Pritts said. Physicians did not say precisely when he started waking up.
The 24-year-old player collapsed Monday during the first quarter of the Bills game against the Cincinnati Bengals and was rushed from the field in an ambulance, stunning a packed stadium and leaving his teammates visibly emotional, crying, and embracing one another.
The NFL announced on Thursday that the game – which was initially postponed Monday night – has been canceled. The league is working on plans to honor Hamlin ahead of every matchup scheduled for this upcoming weekend, two people familiar with the matter told CNN’s Oliver Darcy.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell informed all clubs of his decision Thursday after contacting the Bills, Bengals and NFL Players Association leadership, according to a release from the league.
“This has been a very difficult week,” Goodell said. “We continue to focus on the recovery of Damar Hamlin and are encouraged by the improvements in his condition as well as the tremendous outpouring of support and care for Damar and his family from across the country. We are also incredibly appreciative of the amazing work of the medical personnel and commend each and every one of them.”
News of Hamlin’s awakening was met with a rush of messages of support and relief from players across the NFL. Since his collapse, supporters have honored the player, donating more than $7 million to his charity fundraiser and making his jersey the most purchased athletes’ jersey at the sports apparel store Fanatics, a company spokesperson said.
Hamlin’s family and Allen have also dismissed online criticisms of Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, who had collided with Hamlin just moments before his collapse. The family’s spokesperson has said Higgins has reached out and “has been supportive.”
“I hope that he got some relief today,” Allen said of Higgins while speaking to reporters Thursday. He added, “That’s a football play, and I hope that he doesn’t hold that upon himself, because there is nothing else that he could have done in that situation.”