NFL safety Damar Hamlin has spoken to his family and team-mates, and is breathing without a tube, just four days after he suffered a cardiac arrest while playing for the Buffalo Bills.
The 24-year-old collapsed and had to be resuscitated twice following a collision with Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins during Monday’s NFL game.
However, the Bills confirmed on Friday that Hamlin has spoken with his team-mates on FaceTime, while also releasing a promising update on his medical condition.
In a statement, Hamlin’s team said: “Per the physicians at UCMC (University of Cincinnati Medical Center), Damar’s breathing tube was removed overnight. He continues to progress remarkably in his recovery.
“His neurologic function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team.”
Later, the Bills tweeted: “Damar Hamlin FaceTimed into our team meeting today to talk to players and coaches.
“What he said to the team: ‘Love you boys’.”
Bills players and staff were seen praying together on the field as an ambulance took Hamlin to hospital in Monday’s match.
His team-mates were given a standing ovation by fans and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the game had been postponed.
On Friday, Goodell said the fixture has been cancelled completely following talks with the Bills, Bengals and the NFL Players Association.
“This has been a very difficult week,” said Goodell. “We continue to focus on the recovery of Damar Hamlin and are encouraged by the improvements in his condition as well as the tremendous outpouring of support and care for Damar and his family from across the country.
“We are also incredibly appreciative of the amazing work of the medical personnel and commend each and every one of them.”
The Bills’ clash against the New England Patriots on Sunday is still scheduled to go ahead
Hamlin’s on-field collapse sparked a surge in support for a charitable campaign set up by him two years ago to purchase toys for children in need.
Donations to the Chasing M’s Foundation Community Toy Drive had passed £6.5million at 1600GMT on Friday.