ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Bills safety Damar Hamlin said he returned to Buffalo on Monday “with a lot of love in my heart” to continue his recovery at a hospital there a week later. of going into cardiac arrest and having to be resuscitated. on the field during a game in Cincinnati.
Hamlin was released from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in the morning and airlifted to western New York. He was in stable condition at Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute.
“I can confirm that he is doing well. And this is the start of the next stage of his recovery,” said Dr. William Knight, one of his doctors in Cincinnati.
Doctors said Hamlin has been walking since a breathing tube was removed Friday, eating regular meals and receiving therapy. They said he was on a normal or even accelerated trajectory in his recovery from cardiac arrest, which is considered a life-threatening event, and that normal recovery can be measured from weeks to months.
“We continue to be excited about his recovery,” said Dr. Timothy Pritts.
Hamlin’s return comes a day after he cheered on the Bills from his hospital bed during the regular season-ending 35-23 win over the New England Patriots. The game turned out to be a cathartic outpouring of support for the Bills and Hamlin.
“I returned home to Buffalo today with so much love in my heart,” Hamlin said in a tweet. “Seeing the world come together around me on Sunday was truly an incredible feeling.”
Hamlin was so excited to see teammate Nyheim Hines return the kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown that he “jumped up and down, got up out of his chair, set off all the alarm bells in the UCI in the process,” Pritts said with a smile. “But it was fine. It was an appropriate reaction to a very exciting game.”
Pritts said it was still premature to comment on the possible cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest and that more tests would be done.
“The goal of transfer … is to bring you closer to home for further evaluation, recovery, and ultimately discharge and rehabilitation,” Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute said in a news release.
The Bills wore Hamlin’s No. 3 patches on their jerseys Sunday and honored their teammate by holding up three fingers in the final minutes, while tight end Dawson Knox celebrated his touchdown by making a heart shape with his hands. The fans rallied, many holding red hearts and holding signs with the number 3.
“The same love that everyone has shown me is the same love that I plan to give back to the world and more,” Hamlin tweeted Monday.
Bills coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane briefly saw Hamlin after he touched down in Buffalo.
“We are happy to have him back.” McDermott told reporters on a conference call. “He’s a little tired, but it was nice to see him in person for the first time in a long time.”
The 24-year-old from the Pittsburgh area has made significant progress in his recovery since spending his first two days at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center under sedation and breathing through a ventilator.
They woke him up Wednesday night and he was finally able to grab people’s hands. By Friday, Hamlin was able to breathe on his own and even addressed the team via video conference, telling the Bills: “I love you guys.”
The latest update from doctors came on Saturday, when they described Hamlin’s neurological function as “excellent,” though he remained in critical condition.
Pritts said doctors were able to improve his critical condition Monday, clearing the way for the flight home.
“We want to make sure that each organ system is stable to improve and needs a minimal amount of support so they don’t need intensive nursing,” Pritts said. “We have some amazing nurses who have been with him from the beginning, but he no longer needs that level of nursing care and he no longer needs intensive respiratory therapy from our respiratory care professionals and then he can move to a setting where he would have less intensive care.” .
A doctor accompanied Hamlin to the airport.
Doctors declined to speculate on whether Hamlin would be able to attend a game in person. By beating New England, the Bills (13-3) clinched home field advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Buffalo is preparing to host division rival Miami in a wild card playoff matchup on Sunday.
“Right now he’s just a young man recovering from a very serious illness and we think he’s going to bounce back well from this,” Pritts said. “He has a great positive attitude.”
Hamlin’s heart stopped Monday night after making what appeared to be a routine tackle in the first quarter against the Bengals. The game was initially put on hold before being officially canceled later in the week.
The news of Hamlin’s release from the Cincinnati hospital was greeted with enthusiasm.
“It’s unbelievable,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said.
“I mean, just think about it, that was a week ago, not even a week. There is no one in this room who would have expected him to be in Buffalo,” she added. “God is great. He works miracles. This is certainly a miracle, no doubt… And just an incredible moment for Damar. .”
AP sportswriter Mitch Stacy in Cincinnati contributed to this report.
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