Doctors who treated American football player Damar Hamlin said he was back in Buffalo, New York, on Monday, a sign of the progress he has made a week after going into cardiac arrest and having to be resuscitated on the field during a game in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Hamlin was discharged from the University of Cincinnati Medical Centre in the morning and flown to Buffalo, where Dr William Knight said he was “doing well”.
His return comes a day after he cheered on the Bills from his hospital bed during their regular season-ending 35-23 win over the New England Patriots.
The game proved to be cathartic, leading to an outpouring of support for the Bills and Hamlin.
The Bills wore No 3 Hamlin patches on their jerseys and honoured their teammate by raising three fingers in the closing minutes, while tight end Dawson Knox celebrated his touchdown by forming his hands into the shape of a heart.
Hamlin responded on his Twitter account with a heart message directed towards Knox.
Fans joined in, with many holding up red heart and No 3 signs.
The 24-year-old Hamlin has made significant progress in his recovery since spending his first two days in hospital under sedation and breathing with the help of a ventilator.
He awoke on Wednesday night and was eventually able to grip people’s hands. By Friday, Hamlin was able to breathe on his own and even addressed his team by videoconference, in which he told them: “Love you boys.”
The latest update from doctors came on Saturday, when they described Hamlin’s neurological function as “excellent”, though he remained listed in critical condition.
Later that day, Hamlin tweeted: “Putting love into the world comes back three times as much … thankful for everyone who has reached out and prayed. This will make me stronger on the road to recovery — keep praying for me!”
The NFL will show support for Hamlin during all Week 18 games by including a pregame moment of support, painting Hamlin’s No 3 on the 30-yard line and selling pregame shirts with “Love for Damar 3”.
Hamlin’s heart stopped on Monday night after making what appeared to be a routine tackle in the first quarter against the Bengals. The game was initially suspended before officially being cancelled later in the week.