Damar Hamlin spent Monday night in an intensive care unit and remained there Tuesday in critical condition, the Buffalo Bills said in a statement. The 24-year-old NFL player collapsed during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, and Bills officials said he suffered a cardiac arrest.
Hamlin’s uncle spoke to reporters outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on Tuesday night and said his nephew’s heart stopped twice, once on the field and again at the hospital, CBS Chicago’s Charlie De Mar reported.
What happened in the Monday Night Football game?
With 5:58 to go in the game’s first quarter, Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, who was running the ball, hit Hamlin, a 24-year-old safety, in the chest with his helmet during a play. Hamlin dragged Higgins down to the ground. Hamlin stood up right after — but a few seconds later, collapsed.
Medical personnel attended to Hamlin for 19 minutes on the field, The Associated Press reported, and Hamlin received both CPR and required an automated external defibrillator. CBS Sports reported he was placed on a stretcher, then put in an ambulance, where he was given oxygen, to be taken to the hospital.
The remainder of the game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals was postponed.
The Bills said early Tuesday that Hamlin had suffered cardiac arrest and his heartbeat was restored on the field, and he was transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for further testing and treatment. He was sedated and listed in critical condition, the team said.
Fans rallied outside the hospital overnight and donated millions of dollars to Hamlin’s effort to buy Christmas toys for children from his hometown of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, outside Pittsburgh.
What is “commotio cordis”?
Although the specifics of Hamlin’s injuries are still unknown, Dr. David Agus, a medical commentator for CBS News, speculated that Hamlin might have had commotio cordis, a heart arrhythmia that happens when someone is struck in the chest.
Agus described the illness as “a confusion of the heart,” in which the heart muscle pumps erratically. He claimed that the impact interferes with the heart’s electrical signals, resulting in ventricular fibrillation, a rapid, irregular heartbeat that prevents blood flow to the brain. Agus stated that the heart must be shocked back into a regular beat when that occurs.
He explained, “The purpose of the defibrillators on the sidelines at games is to shock the best heart back into a regular rhythm.”
Agus stated that there is a greater chance of serious effects, including death, every minute that blood supply to the brain is interrupted.
“The earlier you act, the better. Every minute you delay is basically a 10% increase in the likelihood of death,” he stated.
According to Agus, Hamlin’s heart’s recovery will be evident in the next 12 to 24 hours, but the more important concern is if his cardiac stoppage caused any brain damage. Agus stated that the quicker doctors could start his heart, the more chance he has of making a full recovery.
Agus stated that while Hamlin is supposedly on a ventilator, medical staff would gradually reduce the machine’s speed over the course of the next 12 to 24 hours to observe if Hamlin’s body takes over and he starts to breathe on his own, enabling them to remove the ventilator.
According to Agus, there are about 30 occurrences of commotio cordis in the United States each year, including those involving Little League players who are struck in the chest by a ball.