ORCHARD PARK, New York – Damar Hamlin visited teammates at the Bills’ facility Saturday for the first time since being released from a Buffalo hospital and about two weeks after the safety went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated on the field during a game at Cincinnati.
Bills linebacker Matt Milano posted a photo of a smiling Hamlin shaking hands with a teammate on his Instagram account.
A person directly familiar with Hamlin’s schedule confirmed the player’s visit to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Hamlin has kept his schedule and recovery time private.
Hamlin was cleared to return home Wednesday after undergoing final tests at Buffalo General Medical Center. His trip to meet his teammates comes a day before the Bills (13-3) host the division rival Miami Dolphins (9-8) in a wild-card playoff game, raising the possibility that he may be well enough to attend the game.
Hamlin, 24, continues what doctors called a “remarkable recovery” after his heart stopped after being hit in the chest by Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter of a canceled game in Cincinnati in January. 2.
Hamlin spent the first two days at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center under sedation and breathing through a ventilator. Upon awakening, Hamlin showed no signs of neurological damage and was breathing on his own, walking and talking within four days of his arrival.
He spoke to his teammates for the first time on Jan. 6, when Hamlin appeared via video conference from his hospital room. He would exchange hands, flex his muscles, and tell them, “I love you guys.”
On Sunday, Hamlin live-tweeted while watching the Bills’ 35-23 season-opening win over New England before being released from a Cincinnati hospital and transferred to Buffalo a day later. He now continues his rehab with the Bills.
As Hamlin’s recovery progressed over the weekend, as the entire league honored Hamlin, who wears No. 3, the Bills’ and NFL’s messaging switched from “Praying for Damar 3” to “Love for Damar 3.”
Hamlin’s recovery cheered the Bills, who were stunned and teary-eyed as they watched medics revive their teammate.
The Bills were tight-lipped on Wednesday about when they would get a chance to meet with Hamlin in person, saying it depends on the player recovering.
“Just making sure he’s taking it slow and obviously trying to get back to himself,” defensive end Josh Allen said. “So we’ll take all the time we need. But I hope he knows the guys are ready to see him.”
In the days following his collapse, $8.6 million in GoFundMe donations poured into Hamlin’s Toy Drive fundraiser, which will be used to support young people through education and sports.
Hamlin, who hails from the Pittsburgh suburb of McKees Rock, will also use proceeds from the sale of new T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Did We Win?” along with heart-shaped hands to raise money for the Cincinnati trauma center where he was initially treated.
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