“This is the start of the next stage of his recovery”

The recovery of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin will continue in Western New York.

Hamlin, who has received an outpouring of support from across the country since collapsing from cardiac arrest at the start of a game on Jan. 2, was released Monday morning from intensive care at the United Nations Medical Center. University of Cincinnati and was flown back to Buffalo, where he was transferred to Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute for further treatment.

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“He is currently listed in stable condition and continues to make significant progress in his recovery,” Kaleida Health said in a statement Monday afternoon. “The goal of transfer to Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute is to bring him closer to home for further evaluation, recovery, and possibly discharge and rehabilitation.”

Kaleida said Hamlin’s care team is led by Dr. Jamie Nadler, critical care physician and director of system quality, and Dr. Ken Snyder, Kaleida’s director of physician quality and unaffiliated consultant in neurotrauma for the National Football League Players Association and the NFL.

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Monday’s news delivered exactly what fans across the country were hoping to hear. It has allowed the nation to collectively breathe a sigh of relief after the horrific – and nationally televised – scene that unfolded about a week ago when Hamlin, 24, went into cardiac arrest at the following what appeared to be an ordinary tackle late in the first quarter of the “Monday Night Football” game at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.

Hamlin, who has tweeted extensively in recent days, tweeted at 3:30 p.m. Monday: “Grateful for the wonderful care I received at UCMC. Glad to be back in Buffalo. The doctors and nurses from Buffalo General have already made me feel at home!”

Dr. Timothy Pritts, chief of general surgery and vice president of clinical operations at UC Health, said Monday morning that Hamlin was able to meet the criteria necessary to upgrade his condition from critical to “fair or good,” which which allowed the transfer to Buffalo.

“Dr. Pritts and I have spoken extensively with his care team in Buffalo, and I can confirm that he is doing well, and this is the start of the next stage of his recovery,” said Dr. William Knight IV, professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and director of the hospital’s emergency medicine program.

The two doctors held a virtual press conference at 3 p.m. Monday — no doubt an ode to Hamlin’s jersey number — which provided the latest in a recent string of good news about the sophomore’s recovery.

Bills coach Sean McDermott said he got to see Hamlin on Monday afternoon. He said Hamlin was a little tired but seemed happy to be back in Buffalo.

“Having it close by will give us more comfort,” McDermott said. “His parents are going to be with him there. I think that helps too. He’s well taken care of and has a great medical team to take care of him. … I’m very comfortable with the team that has him. ‘surrounds. It continues to reassure us that he’s in good hands and heading in the right direction.”

Hamlin went into cardiac arrest at 8:55 p.m. on Jan. 2, prompting staff coaches and doctors at the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals to spring into action with a well-crafted protocol, efforts that have been hailed by experts across the country. Members of the Bills’ medical and athletic training staff were recognized during pre-game activities on Sunday. Likewise, UC Medical Center providers, who were part of the on-field response, were honored at an on-field ceremony in Cincinnati on Sunday ahead of the Bengals’ home game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Hamlin was taken by ambulance to UC Medical Center at 9:25 p.m. on January 2, where he remained until Monday morning.

Trauma team: Damar Hamlin able to respond;  after waking up, asked: Who won the game?

After waking up, Hamlin wrote a question: who won the game? One of the doctors replied, “Damar, you have won. You have won the game of life.”

Hamlin woke up Wednesday night in the hospital’s intensive care unit, asking a simple, written question that seems already made for the big screen: Who won?

“You won,” a member of the trauma team told Hamlin. “You have won the game of life.”

Pritts and Knight told the story during their final virtual press conference on Thursday, by which time Hamlin had made “substantial improvement in his condition” and was alert and aware. Pritts, during this briefing, said it marked “a good turning point in his continued care”.

On Friday, Hamlin’s breathing tube was removed and he spoke with his teammates via FaceTime, telling them, “I love you boys.”

Damar Hamlin removed the breathing tube, FaceTimes with Bills players and coaches:

Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin continues to make remarkable progress in his recovery just four days after his heart stopped in Monday night’s game against the Bengals. Sophomore safety Hamlin had his breathing tube removed overnight at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, the team announced Friday morning. “He continues to make remarkable progress in his recovery,” the Bills…

Pritts, of UC Health, said Hamlin was able to walk on Friday, taking his first lap and taking assisted walks with nursing staff.

Hamlin’s condition only continued to improve over the weekend, when he was active on social media.

In fact, Hamlin tweeted more than a dozen times on Sunday, a day the Bills beat the New England Patriots 35-23 to end the season 13-3 and lock in the No. 2 seed in the league. ‘AFC. This included the retweet from the Bills’ Twitter account, which pointed out in a tweet that Nyheim Hines’ storybook kickoff return for a touchdown was the team’s first kickoff return for a touchdown in three years and three months.

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Outside Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park ahead of the New England Patriots-Buffalo Bills showdown, Damar Hamlin and the ‘3’ he wears on his Bills uniform seemed to get the love from all football fans heading to the game, regardless of team loyalty.

The number “3” was everywhere in Sunday’s game. It was on flags, signs, t-shirts and more, with fans showing their support for the Pittsburgh native drafted in 2021 by the Bills.

Pritts said Hamlin watched the game on Sunday and had quite the reaction when Hines took the opening kick for a touchdown.

“When the opening kickoff was pushed back, he jumped up and down, got up from his chair, set off I think all the ICU alarms in the process,” said Pritts. “But he was fine. It was just an appropriate reaction to a very exciting game. So he enjoyed it a lot and has everyone’s support.”

Tre’Davious White speaks to reporters after Sunday’s win over the Patriots.

Harry Scull Jr.


At Monday’s press conference, Pritts and Knight noted that Hamlin’s care team in Buffalo will determine his next steps, but they expressed optimism about his continued recovery.

In her statement, Kaleida said Drs. Nadler and Snyder will continue to monitor Hamlin’s progress and assess him further over the coming days. Kaleida said the two doctors worked in conjunction with Dr. Thomas White, the Bills’ team internist, and Nate Breske, the team’s head athletic trainer.

“Out of respect for the privacy of the Hamlin family, the hospital is not scheduling any press conferences or announcements regarding Mr. Hamlin at this time,” Kaleida said. “Furthermore, our physicians politely decline any press and/or interview requests at this time.”

Pritts and Knight have been encouraged by Hamlin’s progress over the past few days. Knight said Hamlin was “admittedly a little weak” on Monday, which isn’t unexpected given everything he’s been through. Pritts mentioned that Hamlin no longer required intensive nursing care or intensive respiratory therapy, which influenced the decision to transport him to Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Pritts said he expects Hamlin to undergo an ongoing series of tests and evaluations to determine if something caused the Jan. 2 incident and “to treat any pathology that may be found.”

Pritts said a normal recovery after something like what Hamlin went through “is going to be measured in weeks or months”, although he noted that Hamlin had been a bit ahead in his recovery at each stage, until ‘now.

Doctors were asked on Monday whether Hamlin could return to football, which they say is too premature at this stage.

“He still has a bit of a way to go in terms of his continued recovery,” Knight said. “We’re thrilled with where he is today. He’s on his feet, he’s walking around. He has an amazing, genuine sense of humor. And his family is amazing and we’re happy he’s with him. them, but in terms of any kind of conjecture about his future, it’s still a long way off in the future, and it’s going to be up to Damar and a great team of doctors to help him out.”

As for Hamlin, he has big plans for the future.

“Seeing the world gather around me on Sunday was truly an incredible feeling,” he posted on Twitter just before 3:30 p.m. Monday. “The same love you all showed me is the same love I plan to give back to the world more.”

“Bigger than football!” that’s how he said it.

Jon Harris can be reached at 716-849-3482 or jharris@buffnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ByJonHarris.

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