Six weeks after he experienced a cardiac arrest on the football field, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin said he’s “doing great” physically but is “still working through things” emotionally.
Hamlin collapsed after making a tackle in the first quarter of a game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2, during which doctors and trainers administered CPR and used a defibrillator on the field to resuscitate him.
The 24-year-old was admitted to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center before being transferred to a Buffalo medical center on January 9. After making remarkable progress, he was released on January 11.
Medical officials said Hamlin went into cardiac arrest, meaning his heart abruptly stopped beating. The cause of the cardiac arrest has not been determined.
“Every morning, every night I take 10 deep breaths to myself and it puts everything in perspective for me. I’m doing great,” Hamlin said in a Good Morning America interview aired on Monday.
“I’m still working through things, I’m still trying to process all the emotions and the trauma that comes from dealing with a situation like that and not really having people around – no one in my immediate circle who has dealt with something like that.”
Hamlin said he owes his life to Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington, who administered critical CPR on the field.
“I owe Denny [Kellington] my life, literally,” he said. “He loves to say he was just doing his job, which is true. That night he was literally the savior of my life, administrating CPR on me, and that’s something I’m truly thankful for and I don’t take for granted.”
Players, coaches and fans were in a visible state of shock as Hamlin was taken out of the stadium in an ambulance last month, with the game between the Bills and the Bengals postponed and then ultimately canceled.
Hamlin, who declined to answer a question about what doctors said happened to him, revealed that he watched the hit at least once while he was in ICU but couldn’t watch too much.
“[It’s] just a crazy feeling,” he said. “Something I can’t describe yet, something I’m still processing, something I’m still trying to work through. Why did that happen to me?”
Last week, Dr. Thom Mayer, medical director of the NFL Players Association, said he “guarantee[s]” that Hamlin will play professional football again.
The 24-year-old said he eventually wants to return to the sport but called the possibility of a return a “tough situation.”
“They [doctors] can’t really tell because it’s up to me,” he said. “It’s a long road and they just are worried about trying to get me back to normal as much as they can.”
Last month, Hamlin launched the “3 For Heart CPR Challenge” campaign in partnership with the American Heart Association to increase CPR awareness and education.
CNN’s Nadia Kounang, Ben Morse, John Sinnott and Jen Christensen contributed to reporting.