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What We Know So Far About Damar Hamlin’s Cardiac Arrest

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is still in critical condition at a Cincinnati hospital on Tuesday after going into cardiac arrest during a primetime game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.

The football star’s heartbeat was restarted on the field by medical officials before he was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for more testing and treatment, according to the Bills.

Hamlin’s collapse has horrified the nation, and led to the cancelation of the Monday Night Football game for the foreseeable future.

Here’s what to know so far.

Bills Bengals Football
Joshua A. Bickel—APBuffalo Bills players pray for teammate Damar Hamlin during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2, 2023.

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Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition

As the first quarter was ending, Hamlin tackled Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, who rammed into Hamlin at high speed. In the collision, Higgins’ helmet appeared to strike Hamlin around the head and chest. By most accounts, it was not an especially noteworthy, or violent hit in the context of the NFL.

Hamlin rose from the open-field tackle, but collapsed onto his back moments later.

Update on Damar:

His vitals are back to normal and they have put him to sleep to put a breathing tube down his throat. They are currently running tests.

We will provide updates as we have them.

— Jordon Rooney (@jordonr) January 3, 2023

The team’s trainers rushed to help Hamlin and an ambulance arrived within a few minutes, with medics performing CPR before he was taken to the nearby hospital.

Within 90 minutes, Hamlin’s vitals were stable and he’d been sedated and given a breathing tube, according to a tweet from Jordon Rooney, Hamlin’s self-identified marketing representative and friend.

In statements from the team on Tuesday, the Bills confirmed that Hamlin is in critical condition and undergoing further tests.

Announcement directly from Damar’s family:

— Jordon Rooney (@jordonr) January 3, 2023

Rooney tweeted a statement from Hamlin’s family Tuesday morning that thanked the team, healthcare workers and football fans for their support. The statement said the family will release updates on Hamlin’s status as they come.

“On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time. We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words, and donations from fans around the country.

We also want to acknowledge the dedicated first responders and healthcare professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who have provided exceptional care to Damar. We feel so blessed to be part of the Buffalo Bills organization and have their support. We also want to thank Coach Taylor and the Bengals for everything they’ve done.

Your generosity and compassion mean the world to use.

Please keep Damar in your prayers. We will release updates as soon as we have them.”

Football fans pray outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin collapsed
Cara Owsley—USA Today Network/ReutersFootball fans pray outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during the Monday Night Football NFL showdown with the Bengals in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Jan. 2, 2023.

What is the NFL saying?

After Hamlin was driven out in an ambulance, officials consulted both teams’ coaches and decided to suspend the game, leaving both teams to file out of the field to the locker room.

With the Bengals leading 7-3, the game has been postponed indefinitely. The NFL has no current plans to resume the Bills-Bengals game and spokesperson Jeff Miller said the league will decide on that at an appropriate time.

Both the NFL and its players’ association expressed that their priority is Hamlin’s well-being and members from both the Bills and Bengals visited Hamlin in the hospital.

“Last night was supposed to be a great night for the NFL and a great showcase for our hometown. Instead, the human side of our sport became paramount… and in that moment, humanity and love rose to the forefront,” Mike Brown, Cincinnati Bengals’ owner said in a statement on Tuesday.

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Greg M. Cooper—APBuffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin leaves the field after an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, on Dec. 1, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass.

Who is Damar Hamlin?

Hailing from the Pittsburgh area, Hamlin was a high school football champion as a teenager and was pursued by several Division 1 football universities. Loyal to the Steel City, he said it was an easy choice when he decided to play for the University of Pittsburgh. Hamlin was named captain in his last season at Pitt. In 2021, he declared for the NFL draft and was chosen by the Bills in the sixth round.

In his second season, the 24-year-old made more appearances on the field this fall when he took over as starting safety. Standing at 6 feet and weighing 200 lbs., Hamlin played in all 15 games Bill games so far this season and has made 91 tackles.

Hamlin is known for his strong love and connection to his hometown, and in 2020 he started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a community toy drive. His initial fundraising goal was $2,500. As of last month, the campaign had just over $2,900 in donations, but since news of Hamlin’s injury spread, the campaign has now raised more than $3.8 million for children’s toys. With more than 147,000 donors, Bills fans have turned to donations as a way to show their support for Hamlin.

“As I embark on my journey to the NFL, I will never forget where I come from and I am committed to using my platform to positively impact the community that raised me,” Hamlin said in the GoFundMe’s description.