Despite a remarkable recovery thus far, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is still facing a lengthy rehabilitation process weeks after going into cardiac arrest on the field during a January 2 game in Cincinnati.
Hamlin’s marketing representative, Jordan Rooney, stressed to The Associated Press Thursday night that he still faces obstacles since he was released from Buffalo General Medical Center on Jan. 11.
The 24-year-old footballer was released from hospital five days after his doctors said he was breathing on his own, walking, talking and showing no signs of neurological damage.
«Damar still requires oxygen and is having his heart monitored regularly to make sure there are no setbacks or sequelae,» Rooney said. «Although he is able to visit team facilities, Damar is not in a condition to travel frequently and requires additional rest to help his body heal.»
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Thursday’s update gave insight into comments made by Bills coach Sean McDermott, who said Wednesday that Hamlin was beginning to make regular visits to team facilities. Emphasizing that he was taking one «baby step at a time,» McDermott added that Hamlin is «dipping his toe in here and getting on the road to getting back to himself.»
Other than a photo posted by Bills linebacker Matt Milano at team facilities on Saturday, Hamlin has yet to appear or speak in public since the medical emergency. However, he has been quite active on his social media accounts, posting updates on his health and live-tweeting the past two Bills games.
Rooney said Hamlin, who remains «very optimistic and grateful» for all the support he has received from around the world, is being watched by his parents.
He also said Hamlin will cheer on the Bills on Sunday from an undisclosed location when Buffalo hosts Cincinnati in the AFC divisional playoff game.
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The upcoming game against the Bengals has added significance, as it marks the first meeting between the two teams since their game was called off after Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated on the field.
The horrifying incident took place after Hamlin was struck in the chest while making what appeared to be a routine tackle on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins.
Hamlin’s family and Bills quarterback Josh Allen defended Higgins, saying he shouldn’t be blamed for what happened.
On Thursday, Higgins said he couldn’t be more grateful for the family’s support and expressed hope that Hamlin would be able to attend the game so the two could meet.
«Just be glad to see it,» Higgins said. «I haven’t really talked to him. I just let his family do what they have to do with everyone he loves.»
TEE HIGGINS LOOKS FORWARD TO ‘HAPPY’ REUNION WITH DAMAR HAMLIN, SHARING ‘LAUGHS AND LAUGHTER’
On Thursday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul spoke with Hamlin by phone and offered her support. In a message posted to her Twitter account, Hochul called Hamlin an «inspiration» and said that the «hopes and prayers of 20 million New Yorkers have been with him through his recovery.
Hamlin, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, responded to the tweet by writing that it was nice to meet Hochul. He added that he was «excited to see how our future collaborations will help and affect so many.»
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The intense outpouring of support over the past few weeks led to nearly $9 million in donations to Hamlin’s charitable foundation, Chasing M’s, via GoFundMe.
A representative for Hamlin posted the following message on the account after the fact:
«Damar created The Chasing M’s Foundation to use as a vehicle to make a lasting impact in his community. The foundation supports toy drives, back-to-school drives, kids’ camps and more. We are hopeful of future involvement from Damar in disbursing incredibly generous contributions.»
Associated Press contributed to this report.