A week after suffering cardiac arrest while playing against the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin appears to be healthy enough to be released from a Buffalo hospital within 24 to 48 hours, Michael Hughes , senior vice president and chief administrative officer of Kaleida Health, told CNN on Tuesday.
Doctors are completing tests on Hamlin and are optimistic they will be able to determine if there were any pre-existing conditions that played a part in Hamlin’s January 2 cardiac arrest. The hospital plans to release a written health update on Tuesday.
If the doctors’ initial findings are true, Hughes said the injury was strictly caused by blunt trauma.
Hamlin was transferred from a Cincinnati hospital to Buffalo Hospital on Monday after doctors determined his critical condition had improved to good or fair – exceeding expectations.
“We felt it was safe and appropriate to help him return to the greater Buffalo area,” Dr. Timothy Pritts, chief of surgery at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, said Monday.
Hamlin’s parents flew home from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh, but then flew to Buffalo. They were en route Tuesday from the Buffalo Bills practice facility and were expected to arrive at the hospital to see Hamlin soon.
Hamlin, a sophomore in the NFL, has regained his strength over the past few days after collapsing suddenly after a tackle against the Bengals in Cincinnati.
“He’s certainly on what we consider to be a very normal or even accelerated trajectory since the life-threatening event he suffered,” Pritts said, “but he’s making great progress.”
Normal recovery from cardiac arrest can be measured in weeks or months, Pritts explained. But Hamlin has beaten that timeline every step of the way and is neurologically intact.
Still, Pritts said it was too early to say when Hamlin might return to normal life or what caused his heart to stop, saying more testing was needed.
Hamlin was sedated and on a ventilator for days after his cardiac arrest. On Friday morning, the breathing tube was removed and Hamlin began walking with assistance that afternoon, his doctors said Monday.
The condition was improved on Monday because his organ systems were stable and he no longer required intensive care or respiratory therapy, doctors said.
“He is walking normally,” said Dr. William Knight, a neurovascular intensive care expert who treated Hamlin at UC Health. “He is certainly a little weak. I don’t think it’s really a surprise after what he went through, just to get his strength back. And this is part of his recovery process.
Hamlin’s release on Monday meant he could return to Buffalo, prompting even more encouragement and eagerness from some of his teammates to see him again.
“Super excited that he’s back in Buffalo and what a job the team of doctors and the medical team have done in Cincinnati, and now he’s being looked after very well here in Buffalo. We’re happy to have him back,” said Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott to reporters on Monday.
After seeing him on Monday, McDermott said Hamlin was “tired” but seemed happy. “Glad to be back in Buffalo and in a familiar area. I know it’s only one step at a time.
The coach also said his team has grown since Hamlin’s injury, saying such experiences fuel growth.
“We will all have grown as people and as men in this case,” McDermott said, noting there is a plan in place for players and staff to visit Hamlin “at the right time”.
“Having him around will give us more comfort” and inspire the team as they prepare for the playoffs, McDermott said.
Although Hamlin wasn’t with the team when they played the New England Patriots on Sunday, his support was definitely felt.
When his team scored a touchdown, Hamlin set off alarms in the ICU, Pritts said.
“When the opening kickoff was pushed back he jumped up and down and got up from his chair and set – I think – all the ICU alarms in the process, but he was going well, that was just an appropriate reaction to a very exciting game. He enjoyed it a lot,” Pritts said.
Hamlin was “beyond excited” on Sunday and felt “very buoyed by the outpouring of love from across the league, especially the Buffalo area. We learned this week that the Bills Mafia is a very real thing. Pritts added.
The immediate medical response to Hamlin’s collapse helped save his life, and the Buffalo Bills are now encouraging people to learn how to administer CPR.
Assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington is credited with performing CPR when Hamlin lost his pulse on the field and required resuscitation and defibrillation.
The medical response was part of an emergency action plan which “involves the team, independent medical and athletic training staff, equipment and security personnel, and is reviewed before each match”, on a monday statement bills read.
The team is committed to supporting resources including CPR certifications, automated external defibrillation units and guidance for developing cardiac emergency response plans within the Buffalo community, according to the communicated.
“We encourage all of our fans to continue to show your support and take the next step by becoming CPR certified,” the Bills said.