Damar Hamlin lifts lid on shocking NFL incident: 'I died on national TV'

The NFL star has announced plans to return to the sport after a terrifying near-death experience.

Buffalo Bills NFL star Damar Hamlin says he technically died on the field for several seconds after suffering cardiac arrest in January. Pic: Getty

Buffalo Bills star Damar Hamlin has shed light on his horrific health scare in January after revealing he "died on national TV" after suffering cardiac arrest on the field. The NFL world was rocked by the incident against the Cincinnati Bengals that saw the 25-year-old safety rushed to hospital after collapsing to the ground seconds after making a seemingly innocuous tackle.

Paramedics performed CPR on Hamlin for up to 10 minutes, while shaken players and viewers around the country looked on in horror. Speaking about terrifying ordeal, Hamlin says his doctors have concluded that a hit to the chest caused his heart to stop.

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The rare condition — called commotio cordis — occurs when a severe blow to the chest causes the heart to quiver and stop pumping blood efficiently, leading to sudden cardiac arrest. Hamlin, 25, spent more than a week in hospital as a result of the frightening incident.

On Tuesday, Bills general manager Brandon Beane said Hamlin was cleared to play after meeting with a third and final specialist last week. The Buffalo star later told reporters that the doctors all agreed his cardiac arrest was due to commotio cordis and that he had technically died for a number of seconds, before being revived.

In his press conference Hamlin said: “I died on national TV in front of the whole world." The Bills player said he would use the near-death experience to try and help educate others and shine a spotlight on the issue.

"This event was life changing, but it's not the end of my story. I'm here to announce that I plan on making a comeback to the NFL," he said. Hamlin's return to the field is the latest "remarkable development" in a recovery that seemed to shock even his treatment team at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. After collapsing on a Monday, he was found to be "neurologically intact" and responsive just two days later, though he remained in critical condition.

The image on the left shows an ambulance taking Damar Hamilin to hospital.
An ambulance takes Damar Hamilin, safety for the Buffalo Bills, to hospital as devastated teammates console one another. Pictures: Getty Images

Damar Hamlin preparing to return to the NFL

Hamlin has been unanimously cleared "to resume full activities" by multiple specialists and is back to working out with the team, Bills GM Beane told reporters. His clearance status is "just like anyone else who was coming back from an injury," Beane said. "He's in a great headspace to come back and make his return."

Commotio Cordis is the "leading cause of death in youth athletes across all sports, so that's definitely something I'll be taking a step in, to make a change," Hamlin said. Already taking action, he met with President Joe Biden at the White House in March. There, he spoke in support of legislation calling for increased access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in schools.

“If there is some greater good that can come from his commotio cordis event, it is that as many people as possible are now aware of how important it is to provide urgent care for all cardiac emergencies," American Heart Association (AHA) CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement.

More than 365,000 people in America have sudden cardiac arrests outside of the hospital each year, according to the group. Survival depends on quick CPR and shocking the heart back into a normal rhythm.

with agencies

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