Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin awake and conscious, asks 'did we win?'

Doctors are happy to say, "Not only that the lights are on, but there's someone home."

ByAlex Perez, Whitney Lloyd, and Meredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Friday, January 6, 2023
Damar Hamlin asks 'Who won the game?' upon waking in hospital
After suffering cardiac arrest on the field during Monday's game, doctors are happy to say, "Not only that the lights are on, but there's someone home."

CINCINNATI -- Doctors with the University of Cincinnati Medical Center updated the condition of Buffalo Bills Player Damar Hamlin on Thursday.

"It's been a long and difficult road for the last three days he has been very sick and has made a fairly remarkable recovery and improvement," said Dr. William Knight IV during a virtual news conference Thursday afternoon.

Hamlin's family and the Buffalo Bills staff have discussed with him what happened, and he can shake his head or communicate with brief notes. Surprised he wasn't with the world for two days, his parents have talked to him about what happened. His first question was "Did we win?"

WATCH | Doctors give updated on Damar Hamlin

Doctors with the University of Cincinnati Medical Center updated the condition of Buffalo Bills Player Damar Hamlin on Thursday.

Doctors were happy to say, "Not only that the lights are on but there's someone home."

Dr. Knight said they are still working to determine exactly what caused Hamlin's cardiac arrest during Monday's game.

Damar is able to move his hands and feet and has been holding many people's hands. His family, Bills staff and doctors.

Both physicians praised the medical staff on the field for providing immediate emergency care that contributed to saving Hamlin's life.

WATCH | UC doctors tell Damar Hamlin he 'won the game of life'

When asked who won the game, doctos say Damar Hamlin 'won the game of life'

Hamlin is showing "remarkable improvement" after collapsing from cardiac arrest Monday night during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the team said Thursday morning.

"Per the physicians caring for Damar Hamlin at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Damar has shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours," the team said in a statement on Twitter. "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."

Hamlin's agent, Ronald Butler, told The Associated Press that Hamlin was awake and has been able to grip the hands of family members at his hospital bedside.

Hamlin's teammate, fellow defensive back Kaiir Elam, also tweeted Thursday morning that Hamlin was "doing better, awake and showing more signs of improvement."

Doctors had told family members Wednesday morning that Hamlin's condition was moving in a "positive direction," according to Hamlin family spokesperson Jordon Rooney.

Rooney told ABC News he could not qualify or elaborate on what "positive direction" meant, but said doctors are seeing the progress they are looking for.

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) leaves the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass.
AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper

Hamlin, 24, remains hospitalized in critical condition in the intensive care unit at University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The second-year safety from the University of Pittsburgh collapsed during the Monday Night Football game against the Bengals after making a tackle in the first quarter.

The game was halted and then suspended indefinitely after doctors provided CPR to resuscitate Hamlin on the field before taking him to the hospital. There has been no decision yet on whether the game will be continued at a later date, the NFL said.

The Bills also confirmed that Hamlin has shown "signs of improvement" Tuesday and overnight.

"He is expected to remain under intensive care as his health care team continues to monitor and treat him," the team tweeted Wednesday.

In an interview with ABC News, Rooney also clarified statements made by Hamlin's uncle, Dorrian Glenn, who said Tuesday that Hamlin had to be resuscitated twice -- on the field and at the hospital. Rooney said that was a misunderstanding and that Hamlin was not resuscitated more than once.

Responding to reports that the defibrillator used on Hamlin malfunctioned, Rooney said those reports were incorrect and that all of the medical equipment worked properly.

President Joe Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he spoke to Hamlin's parents "at length," though he did not elaborate on the conversation.

Hamlin's family thanked the "dedicated first responders and healthcare professionals" at the hospital for their "exceptional care" in a statement released Tuesday.

Medical staff from both team teams responded at the scene, Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, said.

Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin was rushed off field in an ambulance after collapsing.

"It's certainly not an exaggeration to say that the skilled and immediate response by all of these talented caregivers prevented a very tragic outcome at that moment," Sills told reporters during a briefing by the NFL on Wednesday.

There has been some speculation in the medical community that Hamlin suffered from commotio cordis, a rare condition that occurs when the heart's rhythm is disrupted due to a blow to the chest that lands at a very specific moment in the heartbeat. Sills said it "certainly is possible" that Hamlin had the condition, but that "there's still a lot of investigation that needs to happen."

MORE: Damar Hamlin's toy drive fundraiser tops $4 million in donations in hours after his collapse

"Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit in our game versus the Bengals," the Bills said.

Commotio cordis is "almost a diagnosis of exclusion," meaning that no other cause has been found, Sills said. In some cases of cardiac arrest, the cause may go undiagnosed, Dr. Jim Ellis, the NFL's director of emergency preparedness, said.

"The difficulty you have in this particular case, obviously a 24-year-old, very healthy, fit male, sometimes you just may not find the cause," he told reporters during a press call. "There's not always a pathway. You can't get an MRI, a CT scan, there's no blood test in particular that's going to tell you exactly why they had that, certainly nothing for commotio cordis."

Sills said the league will examine whether any changes need to be made to the players' protective equipment, as is customary after someone is evacuated from the field. Shoulder pads typically cover the sternum, which is the "major area of interest for prevention" of commotio cordis, he said.

SEE ALSO: What happened to Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin? Doctor explains player's injury to chest area

A Southern California doctor discussed the injury to Bills player Damar Hamlin and explained what might have caused it.

Both doctors commended the quick response on the field.

"I think the important lesson that we can all take away from this is really, for every sport at every level, for preparation for a sudden cardiac event," including proper training and having automated external defibrillators available, Sills said.

"That is a very, very key message and something we can all learn from," he added.

Troy Vincent, the league's executive vice president of football operations, got emotional talking about Hamlin and called the medical response "outstanding."

"You gave our brother Damar another day to live, another chance to fight," Vincent said, his voice shaking.

Buffalo Bills players returned to their practice facility on Wednesday, but said they would not be meeting with media.

The New England Patriots, who are still scheduled to face Buffalo in Sunday's final game of the season, said in a statement both teams had been given an extra day before meeting with the media "due to these unique circumstances."

Vincent told reporters Wednesday that he is letting the Bills take the lead on whether to postpone the game.

"It's really important that we just keep the pulse of the coach and the players, and don't get in front of that," he said. "And we will allow [Bills head coach] Sean [McDermott] and his team and his staff and the players, which are the most important thing here, to guide us if we have to make that decision collectively with the club."

The Pro Football Hall of Fame also announced Tuesday night it would be delaying its announcement of the 15 finalists for this year's class out of respect to Hamlin.

ABC News' Mark Osborne contributed to this report.