January 4, 2023 The latest updates on NFL star Damar Hamlin's condition

By Jessie Yeung, Sophie Tanno, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 9:45 AM ET, Thu January 5, 2023
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10:55 a.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Tee Higgins, player involved in tackle with Damar Hamlin, has reached out to his family

From CNN’s Adrienne Broaddus and Amanda Watts

Tee Higgins, the Cincinnati Bengals player involved in the tackle with Damar Hamlin before he collapsed on the field Monday night, has reached out to the family, according to Hamlin's friend and marketing representative Jordon Rooney.

Rooney told CNN that both of Hamlin’s parents are “frustrated with backlash towards Tee Higgins.” 

“Tee has reached out, Tee has been supportive,” Rooney said. “It was a freak accident. It was nothing that Tee could control.”  

“You can't support Damar and critique Tee in this situation because Damar’s family is not looking at it that way at all,” he said.  

Higgins tweeted shortly after midnight on Tuesday following the game, sending prayers and thoughts to Hamlin and his family. 

9:56 a.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Buffalo Bills will hold meetings and a walk-through Wednesday

From CNN's Jill Martin

The Buffalo Bills are holding meetings and a walk-through Wednesday in the team’s lead-up to Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.

There is no media availability Wednesday, the team said.

9:20 a.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Here's what you should do if someone is in cardiac arrest

From CNN's Jen Christensen

If you suspect that someone has gone into cardiac arrest, there are some simple steps you can take right away that could mean the difference between life and death.

About 70% to 90% of people who go into cardiac arrest in the US die before they get to a hospital because the people around them don’t always know how to help.

“The most common rhythm that you’ll see is something called ventricular fibrillation, which is basically like the heart is like a bag of worms. It’s beating chaotically, and it’s no longer able to effectively pump,” said Dr. Christine Albert, director of the Cardiology Department at the Smidt Heart Institute in Los Angeles.

“The person collapses because the brain is no longer working, and there’s just a couple of minutes that you have to try to get that rhythm back to a normal rhythm.”

Warning signs can include shortness of breath, a pounding heart, weakness and chest discomfort. But more often than not, cardiac arrest happens without warning.

Someone who’s in cardiac arrest will not have a pulse and won’t respond to sound or touch. They’ll either stop breathing or make gasping-like sounds, which aren’t true breathing but a reflex that happens when the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen.

Cardiac arrest can be caused by irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias. Heart failure can cause it, as can thickening of the heart muscle called cardiomyopathy.

Cardiac arrest can follow a heart attack, which is when a blockage keeps the heart from getting enough blood. The muscle starts to die, but unlike with cardiac arrest, it will continue to pump.

It might also happen because of electrocution, drowning, choking, respiratory distress or trauma. A hard strike to the chest, as for a baseball player, could knock the heart out of rhythm.

What to do first: Call 911, and use an AED: If you see someone with symptoms of cardiac arrest, call 911 immediately. You want to get professional help there as quickly as possible. When the heart can’t pump blood to the brain and the lungs, the person may become brain-damaged or die within minutes.

If someone else is around, divide the duties. One person should call 911 while the other looks for an automated external defibrillator, or AED.

Read more on helping someone in cardiac arrest here.

9:15 a.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Buffalo Bills official broke down crying after a long, heavy 24 hours, they say

From CNN's Coy Wire

A high-ranking official within the Buffalo Bills organization told CNN that after day and night-long meetings on Tuesday, the official broke down crying, sobbing because of the heaviness of the current situation.

All the events and series of tragedies in the city have emotionally piled up within the organization, the official said, adding that through it all, the team has tried to be a source of strength for the city.

Meanwhile, the city's ice hockey team Buffalo Sabres wore “Love for 3” t-shirts honoring Hamlin before the game.

Forward Tage Thompson's performance on the ice Tuesday night was a "glimmer of hope" at a time when the city's sports world needs inspiration as the Buffalo Bills' safety Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition in the hospital, the source said.

Thompson’s three goals in the overtime win over the Washington Capitals reflected the No. 3 Hamlin wears for the Bills. 

Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson skates with the puck during overtime of the team's game against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday in Washington. The Sabres won 5-4 in overtime.
Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson skates with the puck during overtime of the team's game against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday in Washington. The Sabres won 5-4 in overtime. (Nick Wass/AP)

7:08 a.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Hamlin’s toy drive fundraiser tops $6 million

From CNN's Sophie Tanno

An online toy drive fundraiser started in 2020 by Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin topped $6 million early Wednesday morning.

The GoFundMe page was initially set up by Hamlin to raise money for children's toys. However, donations to the page have been pouring in as supporters await updates on the player's condition.

It has now reached the $6 million mark after topping $3 million in donations hours after the NFL star collapsed mid-game on Monday night.

In an update on Tuesday, the page now reads: "This fundraiser was initially established to support a toy drive for Damar’s community, sponsored by the Chasing M’s Foundation.

"However, it has received renewed support in light of Damar’s current battle, and we can’t thank all of you enough. Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us."

Hamlin remains in critical condition after suffering a cardiac arrest following a tackle during the first quarter of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

CPR was administered on the field before he was taken from the stadium in an ambulance to a Cincinnati hospital.

4:14 p.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Former NFLPA president: "People were silent, they were respectful"

From CNN's Sophie Tanno

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott takes a knee as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is tended to on the field following a collision in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on January 2 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott takes a knee as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is tended to on the field following a collision in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on January 2 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Kareem Elgazzar/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

Former president of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), George Martin, has described the moment of Damar Hamlin's collapse in Paycor Stadium on Monday night.

"To see these big strapping strong football players shed tears over a situation like that, that speaks volumes," Martin told CNN.

"Secondly, when you look at how it permeated the entire stadium, the people were silent, they were respectful. They were all concerned."

NFL star Hamlin is fighting for his life in hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest mid-game on Monday.

He remains sedated on a ventilator as doctors work toward getting him to breathe on his own, according to an update from the player’s uncle on Tuesday night.

Hamlin's heartbeat was restored on the field as staff tended to him, the Bills have said, before he was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Hamlin was resuscitated only once, a family spokesman clarified Wednesday, not twice, as his uncle told CNN on Tuesday.

Editor’s Note: This story had been updated to reflect the number of times Hamlin was resuscitated based on information from a family spokesperson and his uncle. Read the latest update here.

5:33 a.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Landmarks illuminated in support of Hamlin

From CNN's Sophie Tanno

Landmarks have been bathed in light across the United States in support of NFL star Damar Hamlin, who suffered a cardiac arrest mid-game on Monday night.

Paycor Stadium, where Hamlin collapsed mid-game, was flooded with blue light on Tuesday evening.

This was followed by the entire city of Cincinnati being lit red, white and blue -- the Buffalo Bills' official team colors.

M&T Bank Stadium in Maryland, home of NFL's Baltimore Ravens, was bathed in the same colors Tuesday night.

Niagara Falls was lit blue for a period of 15 minutes from 9 p.m. to 9.15 p.m. Tuesday night in solidarity with the Buffalo Bills safety.

2:59 a.m. ET, January 4, 2023

Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest mid-game. Here's what that means

From CNN's Elizabeth Wolfe and Adrienne Broaddus

It is still unclear what led to Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest — a condition that results from electrical disturbances that cause the heart to suddenly stop beating properly. Death can occur quickly if help isn’t rendered immediately.

It is not the same as a heart attack or heart failure.

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explained that when the heart is not beating well, fluid can sometimes back up into the lungs and make it hard for medical staff to oxygenate the patient. So, they will flip the person on their stomach into a prone position to make breathing easier.

Gupta also said it sounds like Hamlin is still having a significant amount of cardiac dysfunction and his heart cannot pump enough blood.

One of the treatment options is to decrease the body’s demand for oxygenated blood.

“So you want to improve the amount of circulation, but in the interim, you can also decrease the demand by sedating somebody, by keeping them on a breathing machine,” he said.
“Sometimes they’ll even use cooling agents, hypothermia it’s called, to basically almost put the body in more of a hibernation-like state so it’s not demanding as much oxygenated blood. That’s part of the reason he would be on a breathing machine as well.”

Hamlin's condition: The 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety is on a ventilator to relieve some of the strain on his lungs, which have been damaged, according to his uncle Dorrian Glenn.

The doctors told Glenn his nephew has also been “flipped over on his stomach” in the hospital to help with the blood on his lungs, he said, adding, “It seems like he’s trending upwards in a positive way.”

On-field injuries are not uncommon in the NFL, which often resumes play even after severe cases. But several current and former players have said Hamlin’s cardiac arrest felt especially disturbing as medical personnel fought to save his life while fans and players looked on.

Read more here.