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What we know now about Damar Hamlin’s injury

Family and friends of the Buffalo Bills safety say Hamlin’s status is improving, although he remains in critical condition

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Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins runs near Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin during a game, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. Hamlin was injured on the play.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) runs near Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Cincinnati. Hamlin was injured on the play.

Joshua A. Bickel, Associated Press

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin remains hospitalized in critical condition Thursday, but his loved ones, caretakers and team say he’s showing “remarkable improvement.”

The Bills used that language in a Thursday morning tweet, in which they updated Hamlin’s supporters on his injury status.

“Per the physicians caring for Damar Hamlin at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Damar has shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours. While still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact. His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress,” the Buffalo Bills said.

The statement also thanked football fans for their ongoing support.

“We are grateful for the love and support we have received,” the Bills said.

During a Thursday press conference, doctors from UC Health offered additional details on Hamlin’s recovery.

“He is beginning to awaken and it appears his neurological condition and function is intact,” said Dr. Timothy Pritts during the press conference, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Dr. William Knight IV described Hamlin’s recent improvement as “fairly remarkable.”

“It’s been a long and difficult road for the past few days,” he said, per Pelissero.

The doctors went on to describe what Hamlin has been up to since he woke up. He can’t yet speak since he still has a breathing tube, but he’s been communicating through written messages.

“Dr. Pritts says Damar Hamlin’s signs of improvement included emerging from his sleep, following commands — and asking who won the game,” Pelissero tweeted.

Pritts told reporters that Hamlin’s care team responded that he “won the game of life.”

“Dr. Pritts says they have explained to Hamlin what happened and “He expressed surprise that he had not been with the world for two days.” Also talked with him about all the support,” Pelissero tweeted.

“His first note was: ‘Did we win?’ It’s not only that the lights are on. We know that he’s home,” Pritts said.

Hamlin is now working toward getting strong enough to breathe on his own. It’s too early to say whether he’ll be able to play professional football again, according to the doctors.

Hamlin collapsed during the first quarter of Monday night’s Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game after going into cardiac arrest after being involved in a tackle. The 24-year-old had to be administered CPR on the field before he could be safely taken away in an ambulance.

On Thursday, Knight praised the Bills’ medical staff for their quick response, calling it a “critical” part of Hamlin’s recovery.

“We cannot credit their team enough,” he said.

Hamlin’s uncle, Dorrian Glenn, spoke with the NFL Network on Tuesday evening and shared that Hamlin is still in need of prayers.

Glenn “said his nephew is on a ventilator but he’s improved to 50% oxygen needed after being at 100%. He’s still sedated but main focus is recovering to breathe on his own (and) healing (his) lungs,” tweeted NFL Network reporter Cameron Wolfe after the interview.

Jordon Rooney, Hamlin’s friend and marketing representative, offered further details Wednesday morning, telling ESPN’s Coley Harvey that Hamlin made additional progress overnight.

“Per Jordon and Damar’s family, doctors overnight got promising readings that they had been hoping to see by this morning. Jordon couldn’t go into specifics, but progress appears to be made,” Harvey tweeted.

The Bills confirmed Hamlin’s doctors are seeing “signs of improvement” in a midday tweet on Wednesday.

“Damar remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight. He is expected to remain under intensive care as his health care team continues to monitor and treat him,” the team said.

Hamlin’s family and friends have been with him in the University of Cincinnati Medical Center as other supporters gather for prayer vigils outside the hospital and across the country.

Jill Kelly, wife of famed Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly, hosted one such prayer gathering on Tuesday outside the Bills stadium, according to The Buffalo News.

NFL fans have also responded by donating to Hamlin’s foundation, as the Deseret News previously reported. Since Monday night, a GoFundMe for a holiday toy drive set up by Hamlin has raised more than $6 million.

High-profile donors include New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, the Houston Texans and Russell and Ciara Wilson.

After Hamlin’s injury Monday, the Bills-Bengals game was postponed. The NFL announced Tuesday that it would not be resumed this week and that the league’s week 18 schedule would proceed as planned.

The Bills returned to team meetings on Wednesday and will practice on Thursday, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The team plays the Patriots on Sunday.