Damar Hamlin: Buffalo Bills player awake and 'neurologically intact'

Baseless theories on Covid-19 vaccine proliferate after NFL player suffered cardiac arrest during Week 17 game

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Buffalo Bills cornerback Damar Hamlin is “beginning to awake” and appears to be “neurologically intact”, doctors at the UC Medical Centre in Cincinnati said on Thursday

Hamlins suffered cardiac arrest during a Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Dr Timothy Pritts, director chief of general surgery at UC Health, celebrated Hamlin's improvement but added the NFL player remains critically ill and in intensive care.

Doctors said Hamlin has been able to communicate with hospital staff by writing on a pad of paper. He remains on a ventilator.

One of the first things Hamlin reportedly asked was if the Bills had won the game. Doctors responded by saying: “You won. You've won the game of life.”

Dr Pritts said during a news conference: “We know that he's really, it's not only that the lights are on and … all cylinders are firing within his brain, which is greatly gratifying for all of us.”

But there are still “many, many” steps ahead for Hamlin, Dr Pritts added, among those breathing on his own.

It is too early to determine if he will be able to play American football again.

“The best outcome would be who he was before this happened,” said Dr William Knight, director of emergency medicine.

Dr Pritts added: “We're still focused on the day to day and then we'll talk about next steps after that.”

Hamlin's agent Ron Butler told CNN on Thursday that the NFL player has been holding hands with his family.

“Our boy is doing better, awake and showing more signs of improvement. Thank you, God,” tweeted Kaiir Elam, Hamlin's teammate in Buffalo.

News of Hamlin waking came shortly after the Buffalo Bills noted “remarkable improvement” in his condition over the past 24 hours.

The NFL player made a tackle in the first quarter of the Week 17 game on Monday night and proceeded to stand before collapsing. Medical personnel performed CPR on him and then transported him to UC Medical Centre in Ohio.

Covid-19 vaccine misinformation proliferates

Right-wing television hosts have tried to connect Hamlin's medical emergency to his Covid-19 vaccination status without any evidence to support their claims.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson welcomed Dr Peter McCullough to promote such a theory on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox News's flagship prime time programme.

“I think the leading concern here is vaccine-induced myocarditis, if indeed he's taking the vaccine,” Dr McCullough said of Hamlin.

Carlson had also claimed that Dr McCullough and another researcher found “more than 1,500 total cardiac arrests” had occurred across sport leagues in Europe “since the vax campaign began”.

He was citing a blog that failed to prove the relationship between deaths/medical emergencies and Covid-19 vaccines.

Emerald Robinson, former correspondent for far-right network Newsmax, tweeted: “Everybody knows what happened to Damar Hamlin because it's happened to too many athletes around the world since Covid vaccination was required in sports.”

Hamlin's vaccination status is unknown. The NFL previously said close to 95 per cent of players in the league are vaccinated.

Physicians have said there is no evidence to suggest that young athletes have died because of Covid-19 vaccinations, The Associated Press reported.

Cardiac experts have said it is too soon to know the cause of Hamlin's medical emergency, though some have suggested commotio cordis as a possible explanation.

Allen Stills, chief medical officer for the NFL, said on Wednesday there was “still a lot of investigation that needs to happen” to understand Hamlin's case.

“Many people have discussed this condition commotio cordis, and it certainly is possible,” Dr Sills said.

“But I think what's more important is, regardless of the cause, the key of any type of sudden cardiac event is the rapid response of trained personnel.”

In his first media appearance since Monday, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor praised medical and referee officials, as well as Bills head coach Sean McDermott.

“The first thing he said was, 'I need to be at the hospital with Damar. I shouldn't be coaching this game,'” Taylor said of McDermott.

The NFL said the Bills-Bengals game would not be resumed this week and has not yet made a decision on resuming the game.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said he would support whatever decision the Bills make in a possible resumption.

“I think whatever Buffalo would want to do would be what we want to do as well,” he told reporters during media availability on Wednesday.

“We're behind them 100 per cent and support them in whatever they decide to do going forward.”

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: January 06, 2023, 5:38 AM