Damar Hamlin is Awake and "Neurologically Intact" at UC Medical Center

“He is beginning to awaken,” doctors on his care team said. “He even asked who had won the game.”

Jan 5, 2023 at 2:20 pm
click to enlarge Bills cornerback Kaiir Elam tweeted that Hamlin is awake and his condition is improving. - Photo: Kaiirelam5 on Twitter
Photo: Kaiirelam5 on Twitter
Bills cornerback Kaiir Elam tweeted that Hamlin is awake and his condition is improving.

Damar Hamlin has shown "remarkable improvement" over the past 24 hours, according to an update provided to the Buffalo Bills from the physicians at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

The Bills tweeted Jan. 5 that "w
hile still critically ill, he [Hamlin] has demonstrated that he appears neurologically intact. His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress."

During press conference later, UC Medical center doctors said Hamlin “continues to undergo intensive care,” but has made “substantial” improvements.

“He is beginning to awaken,” doctors on his care team said. “He even asked who had won the game.”

Doctors clarified that Hamlin cannot speak while he’s still intubated, but that he’s been able to write messages to doctors and family as of Jan. 4. Doctors told Hamlin he did in fact win.

“Yes, Damar, you won. You won the game of life,” doctors said they told Hamlin.

Hamlin, 24, went into cardiac arrest after a routine play during the first quarter of the Bills-at-Bengals game on Jan. 2. After colliding with Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, Hamlin collapsed to the ground and underwent nine minutes of CPR on the field in front of teammates and thousands of hushed fans. Players from both teams looked on in shock, openly weeping and praying while emergency crews worked to restart Hamlin's heart. He was transported to UC Medical Center where he was intubated.

Bills cornerback Kaiir Elam tweeted Jan. 5 that Hamlin was awake and improving.

"Our boy is doing better, awake and showing more signs of improvement," Elam tweeted. "Thank you God. Keep the prayers coming please. All love 3!"

NFL writer Ian Rapoport tweeted on Jan. 5 that Hamlin had opened his eyes the evening before and had been "gripping the hands of those close to him."

"Hamlin opened his eyes last night and is responsive. Truly incredible. One thing that's very clear from speaking to those close to him: They are endlessly appreciative of the medical care given to Hamlin on the field immediately, then over the last 72 hours," Rapoport tweeted.

The game, which was nationally broadcast as part of Monday Night Football on ESPN, was suspended and then postponed after a meeting among NFL officials and both teams' coaches. On Jan. 3, the NFL announced that the game would not be resumed this week. At the time of the pause, Cincinnati led 7-3.

On Jan. 5, Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins identified assistant athletic trainer Danny Kellington as the person who had first administered CPR to Hamlin as the Bills safety lay motionless on the field.

"Denny Kellington lets praise this name and person for reviving Our Brother Damar on the field," Dawkins tweeted. "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."
Sports Illustrated reporter Albert Breer confirmed Kellington's actions.

"One hero who should be recognized here: Last night, I was told the work of Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington in administering CPR to Damar Hamlin on Monday was absolutely vital," Breer said. "The speed and skill with which he and others reacted = A huge difference-maker." Higgins, who was on the receiving end of the tackle that preceded Hamlin's collapse, has received criticism from some fans and industry mouthpieces who claimed that the wide receiver was partially responsible for Hamlin's condition. 

Most experts agree that the on-field clash between Higgins and Hamlin was routine, but ESPN analyst and former NFL linebacker Bart Scott claimed that Higgins had lowered his helmet to butt Hamlin with its crown, which is against regulations. Other analysts and industry experts immediately defended Higgins and slammed Scott for his comments. 

"Higgins actually hit him with the shoulder, it was a normal football play. ESPN themselves even clarified it during the show," NFL writer Doc Kleiman tweeted.

Sports marketing rep and Hamlin family friend Jordan Rooney said that the family wanted the backlash against Higgins to stop.

“Tee has reached out, Tee has been supportive. It was a freak accident. It was nothing that Tee could control," Rooney told CNN. “You can't support Damar and critique Tee in this situation because Damar’s family is not looking at it that way at all."

Big donations from Tri-State supporters

Hamlin’s charity, The Chasing M’s Foundation, has steadily received a massive wave of donations on GoFundMe following his collapse. The foundation, which supports children from his hometown of Pittsburgh with toys, school supplies and kids' camps, has received more than $7 million in donations as of press time, far exceeding its initial goal of $2,500.

Big Tri-State donors include the owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, who donated $25,003. Sauce Gardner, the former UC cornerback who now plays for the New York Jets, donated $5,000. A $10,003 donation from the Cleveland Browns appears on the GoFundMe donor list.

Jeff Ruby reportedly took the culinary route by offering to provide dinner to the Hamlin family while they stay in Cincinnati. He first expressed the idea on Twitter saying he "wasn't able to fall asleep" after the devastating hit.

Follow CityBeat's staff news writer Madeline Fening on Twitter and Instagram.

Coming soon: CityBeat Daily newsletter. We’ll send you a handful of interesting Cincinnati stories every morning. Subscribe now to not miss a thing.

Follow us: Google News | NewsBreak | Reddit | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter