Local cardiologist speaks about Damar Hamlin’s recovery

[anvplayer video=”5173306″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A local cardiologist is sharing more about Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s diagnosis as he returns to football. Hamlin opened up about it on Tuesday, saying it was a life-changing event, but not the end of his story.

Hamlin said Friday was his last doctor’s appointment following the collapse in January. This shook up fans and spectators for weeks. He said he’s made enough progress to start practicing again with teammates, and work out with them in the gym.

You may be wondering, is it too soon? How is this possible?

Hamlin said his doctors cleared him, even recommending he return to the sport, for his mental health.

Dr. Scott Feitell with Rochester Regional Health said it’s certainly possible to make a full recovery from the rare condition he suffered, called Commotio Cordis. This occurs when someone gets hit in the chest. But the impact has to happen at the right spot on the chest, at the right time, in between the heart’s beating cycles.

Feitell said with proper equipment and CPR, you can absolutely survive, as long as there’s no complications.

The chances of getting it again? Just as good as winning the lottery twice.

“No matter what walk of life you’re in, there’s always risk of impact,” said Feitell. “Whether it’s the steering wheel during a car accident, a baseball hitting a catcher, getting tackled in football.”

“My heart is still in it, I love the game,” said Hamlin. “It’s something I want to prove to myself, not nobody else, I just want to show people that fear is a choice. You can keep going, without having answers, or knowing what’s at the end of the tunnel.”

Feitell said the situation has raised a lot of awareness for CPR training, and inspired many to participate. Hamlin himself said it’s something he wants to advocate in the coming days, as he works his way back on the field.

“Commotio Cordis is the leading cause of death in youth athletes across all sports,” said Hamlin. “So that’s personally something I will be taking a step in to make a change, and also with that being said, all the awareness around CPR, access to AEDs are lowering that number as well.”

“You do not have to be a trained professional to save a life,” said Feitell. “If you look statistically at patients who have cardiac event rates, you know most patients aren’t fortunate to be in a stadium with people on standby who are trained in this.”