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Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera

NFL player Damar Hamlin leaves hospital to recover at home

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinatti Bengals in early January [File: John Amis/The Associated Press]

National Football League (NFL) player Damar Hamlin has been discharged from a hospital in Buffalo, New York, nine days after suffering a cardiac arrest and collapsing in the middle of the game.

Hamlin’s team, the Buffalo Bills, announced the 24-year-old player’s discharge on Wednesday. He had been undergoing “a series of cardiac, neurological and vascular testing” at Buffalo General Medical Center,  to which he transferred on Monday from a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the incident occurred.

“We have completed a series of tests and evaluations, and in consultations with the team physicians, we are confident that Damar can be safely discharged to continue to his rehabilitation at home and with the Bills,” the team quoted doctor Jamie Nadler, who has lead Hamlin’s treatment, as saying.

The team called the discharge “an amazing update”.

Hamlin, who has played the defensive position of safety for the Bills since 2021, did not immediately respond to his release, but thanked the hospital in a tweet on Tuesday.

“Not home quite just yet,” he wrote at the time. “Keep me in y’all prayers please!”

Hamlin’s heart stopped after what appeared to be a routine tackle in the first quarter of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2. He remained motionless lying at midfield before medical workers began performing CPR and administered an automatic external defibrillator, with the quick response later credited with saving his life.

The game was initially suspended before officially being cancelled later in the week.

The on-field medical emergency shocked and alarmed league officials, players and fans in a high-contact sport where injuries are common. Support poured out for Hamlin while he remained in critical condition in the days following the collapse.

Damar Hamlin has received an outpouring of support since collapsing from cardiac arrest during a football game last week [Jeffrey T Barnes/AP Photo]

Speculation has since grown over what caused the episode in the apparently healthy professional athlete, with several cardiologists and the NFL players association saying it may have been a rare event in which an impact to the chest interfered with the heart’s regular rhythm.

Questions about whether similar incidents can be avoided have also grown within the sport, which has faced increasing calls for safety reforms in recent years.

Those calls have mostly focused on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain condition linked to repeated impacts to the head.

High rates of the condition, which can only be definitively diagnosed post-humously, have been found in former NFL players.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday the team celebrated Hamlin’s release as they prepared for Sunday’s playoff game against the Miami Dolphins.

“We’re grateful that he’s home – his health is first and foremost on our mind,” McDermott said. “When he feels ready, we welcome him back.”

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