Medical professionals react to Damar Hamlin injury

Newscast recording
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 7:25 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Monday night NFL fans across the nation held their breath as Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed after making a tackle on Monday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals.

A tragedy that shocked not only the sports community, but the world at large.

After what appeared to be a normal play, 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field after making a hit at Paycor Stadium in what was supposed to be one of the most exciting games of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Fans, teammates, and family watched as Hamlin was given CPR for nearly 10 minutes, and then taken off the field in an ambulance.

In the aftermath of such a devastating injury, many are wondering what could have possibly happened to create a scene like that.

Deaconess Cardiologist Dr. Adeel Siddiqui explains that there’s a reason many of us haven’t seen something like that before.

“The incidents of sport-related cardiac arrests is very low,” says Siddiqui, “It’s a mechanism which occurs right when a patient gets hit on the chest at the right time during the cardiac cycle.”

What looks like a regular hit from a bird’s eye view can send somebody into an abnormal heart rhythm.

There’s still no official word on what caused Hamlin’s cardiac event, but if the cause is the hit he received, the abnormal rhythm could explain the scene that followed.

“You can’t get circulation of blood to the brain and to the whole body, and basically when you reach a critical point when the heart is not able to give that blood to the brain, that’s when you would collapse,” says Siddiqui.

After he collapsed, medical personnel took over.

Dr. Siddiqui says those first moments are the most crucial.

“The main thing is to determine if someone is responsive and if they have a pulse. If the answer to those questions is no, then you immediately need to start cardiopulmonary resuscitation, I.E. CPR,” explains Siddiqui, “it’s those first minutes of someone going down that matter the most.”

With a cardiac event, Dr. Siddiqui says everyone is different, and every event is different.

That rings true for what’s required for recovery too.

“The main thing that we are worried about is brain injury due to lack of oxygen to the brain, and the longer the amount of downtime, which is the amount of time we’re doing CPR, the higher the chances of anoxic brain injury,” says Siddiqui.

Now, only time will tell what the road ahead has in store for him.

“It can be something short term that lasts only for a few days to a week, and then patients completely recover. Sometimes these things can take months to completely recover, and then even the question of degree of recovery would depend on the degree of anoxic brain injury,” says Sidiqqui, “and that will all be determined in the coming days to weeks.”

We also spoke with the sports director at our sister station in Cincinnati, Joe Danneman about the events that took place Monday night.