Will Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin ever play in the NFL again after suffering cardiac arrest on Monday during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals?
There is precedent for the return of a top-level athlete after such an experience.
In June 2021, Danish soccer player Christian Eriksen was playing for his national team against Finland when he collapsed on the field, according to the Daily Mail.
“Instantly it became clear how serious the incident was. He, essentially, died on the pitch and was brought back to life thanks to rapid and urgent resuscitation with the use of a defibrillator,” the outlet reported.
Ericksen, 30, made a full recovery. Doctors later fitted him with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. He returned to professional soccer with the famed Manchester United club in England.
In November, Eriksen played for Denmark in his third World Cup.
No player has created more chances at the World Cup than Christian Eriksen so far 🎯
Beautiful seeing him back on the big stage 👏 pic.twitter.com/XrqmdLAsYp
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) November 22, 2022
“I think [the near-death experience] gave me … the appreciation of being alive and being with my family. And I think everything else is just moved to the side,” he told reporters ahead of the tournament, according to CNN.
Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center gave an encouraging update on Hamlin’s condition Thursday, saying he is awake and responsive.
“Did we win?” Hamlin scribbled on a clipboard, according to Dr. Timothy Pritts.
“Yes, Damar, you won. You’ve won the game of life,” Pritts said he responded.
The best soundbite to come out in a very long time: “Yes, Damar, you won. You won the game of life.” pic.twitter.com/pkFeMR2aGI
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 5, 2023
Pritts said Hamlin is still in critical condition, but has improved substantially in the last 24 hours.
“It appears that his neurological condition and function is intact,” the doctor added.
Hamlin was able to hold hands with members of his family, agent Ron Butler said.
Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins praised the team’s training staff for giving Hamlin the immediate treatment he needed on the field to keep him alive Monday night.
Denny Kellington let’s praise this name and person for reviving Our Brother Damar on the field. Denny gave CPR and chest compressions to get his Heart Back Beating #DennyKellington And also thank you to all the doctors and Medical professionals that have helped and assisted ❤️❤️3
— Dion Dawkins (@DDawkins66) January 5, 2023
Bills quarterback Josh Allen shared that receiving positive updates about his teammate’s condition “eases so much of that pain and that tension that you feel.”
Josh Allen gets choked up talking about how Sean McDermott led the Bills and what it was like to be on the field when Damar Hamlin was injured. pic.twitter.com/87jaxODLqf
— Matt Parrino (@MattParrino) January 5, 2023
Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, whom Hamlin tackled prior to going into cardiac arrest, told reporters that Hamlin’s mom has been texting him with updates.
“It makes me feel better inside” knowing he’s improving, Higgins said.
Bengals WR Tee Higgins recounts more of his conversation with Damar Hamlin’s mother and the positive updates.
Higgins: “It makes me feel better inside.” pic.twitter.com/1ldWCRF8fz
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) January 5, 2023
He added that he smiled when he learned Hamlin asked doctors who won the game.
“That’s probably something I would’ve asked,” Higgins said.
Bengals offensive guard Ted Karras agreed, remarking, “What a legendary thing to say.”
“My spirit felt restored” Ted Karras hearing news of Damar Hamlin making significant improvement before Bengals practice. Says Hamlin reportedly asking ‘Who won?’ is stuff of legend pic.twitter.com/XLuBIsfRSt
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) January 5, 2023
“My spirit felt restored when we got that news before we went out to practice today,” he continued. “I had been thinking and praying. I just wanted to get the news that he was up and communicating.”
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