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Damar Hamlin says he is ‘doing great,’ but emotional recovery will take time

Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin speaks in front of University of Cincinnati Medical Center staff during the NFL Honors award show ahead of the Super Bowl 57 football game,Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Just over a month after collapsing during an NFL game in Cincinnati, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is now publicly reflecting on his “remarkable” recovery from the cardiac arrest he suffered after making a tackle in early January.

Hamlin, 24, said he was grateful to be able to “live normally” and come out of the situation “without a scratch on me.”

“I’m doing great,” Hamlin said when asked about how he was physically on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Every morning, every night, I take 10 deep breaths to myself and it puts everything in perspective for me.”

Hamlin’s interview comes after what doctors said was a “remarkable” recovery from the cardiac arrest he suffered after making a tackle midway through the first quarter of the Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game earlier this year.

An assistant athletic trainer for the Bills, Denny Kellington, administered CPR to Hamlin right away. Hamlin said he owes Kellington his life.

“That night, he was literally the savior of my life,” Hamlin said. “That’s something I’m truly thankful for and I don’t take for granted.”

After collapsing, Hamlin was taken to a hospital in Cincinnati, where he spent a number of days in the intensive care unit on a ventilator. He was able to communicate with family and teammates four days after the cardiac arrest.

Hamlin said he remembers the preparation leading up to the game against the Bengals, which was a crucial match-up for both teams ahead of the playoffs. But when asked what he remembers about the moments before he collapsed, Hamlin said it wasn’t something he wanted to get into.

“It’s something I don’t really want to get too deep into the details of,” Hamlin said after a long pause. 

He admitted that while physically he felt great in the aftermath of the injury, he was still “working through” the emotional impact.

“I’m still working through things,” Hamlin said. “I’m still trying to process all the emotions and the trauma that comes from dealing with a situation like that.”

Hamlin has used the incident to launch a campaign with the American Heart Association to try and get 3 million people to sign up to learn CPR.

Hamlin said he hopes to get back to playing football “eventually,” but said it was something he was putting in God’s hands.

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