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What happened to Damar Hamlin

Damar Hamlin a 26 year old surviving cardiac arrest while live on television. Damar Hamlin a safety for the Buffalo Bills, suffered a medical emergency during a Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2, 2023. During the game, he collapsed on the field after making a tackle, which led to an urgent medical response. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what happened and why he needed CPR:

The Incident

  1. The Tackle: Damar Hamlin made a routine tackle on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. After the hit, both players stood up, but Hamlin collapsed within seconds.
  2. Immediate Collapse: Hamlin fell to the ground abruptly, indicating a sudden and severe medical issue.

The Medical Response

  1. Immediate Assessment: Medical personnel quickly rushed to his side to assess the situation. It was clear that Hamlin had experienced a severe cardiac event, as he was unresponsive.
  2. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): The medical team began administering CPR to Hamlin on the field. CPR is a critical life-saving procedure used to maintain blood flow to the brain and organs when the heart stops pumping effectively.
  3. Defibrillation: An automated external defibrillator (AED) was used to deliver electric shocks to Hamlin’s heart in an attempt to restore a normal heartbeat. The use of an AED is standard in cases of cardiac arrest caused by arrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation.

Potential Cause: Commotio Cordis

While the exact medical details of Hamlin’s condition have not been fully disclosed, the nature of the incident suggests that he may have suffered from commotio cordis. This condition occurs when a person experiences a direct blow to the chest, precisely timed during a specific phase of the heart’s electrical cycle, leading to ventricular fibrillation, a chaotic and life-threatening heart rhythm. Commotio cordis is rare but can occur in sports where players are at risk of chest impacts, such as football, baseball, and hockey.

Why CPR was Needed

  1. Loss of Heart Function: Hamlin’s heart likely went into an abnormal rhythm, preventing it from pumping blood effectively. This sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) requires immediate intervention to restore normal heart function and maintain blood circulation.
  2. Life-Saving Measures: CPR helps to manually circulate blood and maintain oxygen flow to the brain and other vital organs until advanced medical care can be provided. Defibrillation through an AED can correct the heart’s rhythm, potentially saving the person’s life.

Aftermath and Recovery

  1. Hospitalization: Hamlin was transported to the hospital, where he received advanced medical care. His condition was initially critical but stabilized over time.
  2. Public and Media Reaction: The incident drew significant attention and support from the public, NFL players, and the broader sports community. It highlighted the importance of emergency medical preparedness in sports.
  3. Emphasis on Safety: Hamlin’s ordeal underscored the need for immediate access to life-saving equipment like AEDs and trained medical personnel during sporting events. It also led to renewed discussions about player safety and the risks associated with contact sports.


Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the football field was a dramatic and distressing event likely caused by commotio cordis, leading to sudden cardiac arrest. The swift administration of CPR and defibrillation were crucial in stabilizing him and providing a chance for recovery. This incident emphasizes the importance of emergency preparedness and medical intervention in sports to address life-threatening situations effectively.