Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin has been discharged from a Buffalo medical center, his club said Wednesday, after more than a week of hospitalization due to a cardiac arrest he suffered during a “Monday Night Football” game this month.
The 24-year-old Bills safety had been showing signs of accelerated improvement in the days leading up to his release from Buffalo General Medical Center in New York, hospital officials had said.
“We have completed a series of tests and evaluations, and in consultation with the team physicians, we are confident that Damar can be safely discharged to continue his rehabilitation at home and with the Bills,” a physician leading Hamlin’s care in Buffalo, Dr. Jamie Nadler, said in a statement the Bills released Wednesday on Twitter.
Hamlin initially was hospitalized in Cincinnati when his heart suddenly stopped after a tackle during a game against the host Cincinnati Bengals on January 2, but was transferred to the Buffalo facility Monday after doctors determined his critical condition had improved enough for the move.
Doctors at the Buffalo hospital were trying to determine why Hamlin suffered the cardiac arrest, Kaleida Health, the group of hospitals that includes the Buffalo medical center, said before his discharge. That included whether pre-existing conditions played a role in the event, which shocked many around the country and prompted a huge outpouring of support for the second-year NFL player.
On Tuesday, Hamlin went through “a comprehensive medical evaluation as well as a series of cardiac, neurological and vascular testing,” the Bills said on Twitter.
No cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest has been publicly announced.
“Special thank-you to Buffalo General it’s been nothing but love since arrival! Keep me in y’all prayers please!” Hamlin tweeted Tuesday.
It will be up to Hamlin to decide when he will be around the team again while recovering, Bills coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday.
“Grateful first and foremost that he is home with his parents and his brother, which is great,” McDermott told reporters Wednesday, as the Bills prepared to host the Miami Dolphins for a playoff game Sunday. No timetable for Hamlin’s return to professional football has been announced.
“We’ll leave (when he’ll be around the team) up to him. His health is first and foremost in our mind as far as his situation goes and when he feels ready, we will welcome him back,” McDermott said.
While in critical condition in Cincinnati, Hamlin was sedated and on a ventilator for days. On Friday morning the breathing tube was removed, and Hamlin began walking with some help by that afternoon, his doctors said Monday.
The health care team focused on stabilizing Hamlin and upgraded his condition Monday because his organ systems were stable and he no longer needed intensive nursing or respiratory therapy, doctors said.
“He’s certainly on what we consider a very normal to even accelerated trajectory from the life-threatening event that he underwent,” Dr. Timothy Pritts, chief of surgery at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, said earlier this week. “He’s making great progress.”
Normal recovery from a cardiac arrest can be measured in weeks to months, Pritts said Monday. Hamlin had been beating that timeline at each stage and is neurologically intact.
Swift response was key to saving Hamlin
When Hamlin collapsed seconds after an open-field tackle against a Bengals wide receiver, medical personnel rushed onto the field and administered CPR quickly – which helped save his life.
Hamlin’s heart had stopped, and medical responders revived it twice before putting him into an ambulance and taking him to the hospital. The immediate actions of medical personnel were vital to “not just saving his life, but his neurological function,” said Pritts.
The horrifying scene of Hamlin suddenly falling on his back after standing up following the tackle unsettled his teammates, the other players and millions of watching fans.
The game was initially postponed and later cancelled by the NFL – a decision several former football players said was a sign of a shift in prioritizing players’ mental and physical health.
Now, the Bills organization is encouraging people to learn the critical, life-saving skill of administering CPR.
The team has pledged support for resources including CPR certifications, automated external defibrillator units and guidance for developing cardiac emergency response plans within the Buffalo community, according to the statement. “We encourage all our fans to continue showing your support and take the next step by obtaining CPR certification,” the Bills said.
CNN’s Jason Hanna contributed to this report.