NFL safety Damar Hamlin’s breathing tube was removed and he FaceTimed into a meeting telling his teammates, “Love you boys,” as he continued his recovery after suffering a terrifying cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, according to the Buffalo Bills.
The team tweeted Friday about Hamlin’s medical progress.
“Per the physicians at UCMC, Damar’s breathing tube was removed overnight. He continues to progress remarkably in his recovery. His neurologic function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team,” one tweet read.
Another statement from the team mentioned his interaction with his teammates.
“Damar Hamlin FaceTimed into our team meeting today to talk to players and coaches. What he said to the team: ‘Love you boys.’” The Bills’ tweet was punctuated by a heart emoji.
Hamlin’s collapse, watched by millions, occurred just after he tackled a Bengals receiver. It appeared that the receiver’s shoulder struck Hamlin in the chest.
It remains unclear what exactly caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest. One possibility is a phenomenon called “commotio cordis.”
“Commotio cordis is an incredibly rare event,” Dr. William Knight, professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, said Thursday. “It’s a diagnosis of exclusion,” meaning other conditions have to be ruled out before it can be determined definitively.
“It is on the list of considerations,” said Knight, who is part of a group of physicians treating Hamlin.
Normally, the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body about every second. There is a rhythm to the process, keeping the blood flowing at a healthy pace. Every time the heart beats, there is a tiny moment — less than a fifth of a second — that makes it vulnerable to the force of a projectile that can lead to a chaotic and potentially deadly heart rhythm.
It is in this exact moment, experts say, that a blow to the chest in the exact right place can launch an otherwise healthy person into cardiac arrest. The heart’s electrical system malfunctions, and the heartbeat rhythm goes haywire.
It is too early, Hamlin’s doctors say, to determine whether he might return to professional football. There is a concern that Hamlin may have inhaled fluid or blood, potentially causing problems with lung function.
Upon regaining consciousness, Hamlin, 24, asked: “Did we win?,” his doctors said Thursday.
“The answer is yes,” Dr. Timothy Pritts, division chief of general surgery at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, told Hamlin. “You won the game of life.”
The NFL announced late Thursday the game that was postponed following Hamlin’s collapse on the field will not be made up.
The league acknowledged that canceling the game “creates potential competitive inequities in certain playoff scenarios” and said NFL clubs will consider a resolution at a special league meeting Friday.
Part of that resolution could involve the Jan. 29 AFC Championship Game being played at a neutral site.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in Thursday’s statement that it has been “a very difficult week” and that the league is focused on Hamlin’s recovery.
Erika Edwards, David K. Li and Phil Helsel contributed.