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Update from Damar Hamlin: As the Bills player remains in critical condition, the Colts' Rodney Thomas II details his hospital visit

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CNN

While Buffalo Bills forward Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition after suffering a cardiac arrest mid-game, his childhood friend and high school teammate, Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II says “no I doubt” that Hamlin will recover.

Thomas drove directly to the hospital where Hamlin was being treated Monday night, where he said Hamlin was sedated after being rushed from the field during the Bills’ game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I know he can hear me,” Thomas said when speaking to reporters on Wednesday. He said he managed to be in the room with Hamlin and hold his hand. “Even if he couldn’t hear me, it didn’t matter. I said what I had to say.

The two, who became close friends while teammates at their high school in Pittsburgh, spoke daily and spoke the Monday before Hamlin’s breakdown.

“It calmed me down a lot,” Thomas said of seeing his friend. “It made coming home a lot easier. I could go home and know he’s going to be straight. I got him. We all got it. Everyone is after him.”

Hamlin remains in intensive care at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after collapsing during the first quarter of Monday night’s game, although he has shown “signs of improvement,” his team said in a statement Wednesday.

His heartbeat was restored on the field, the Bills said, before being carried from the stadium in an ambulance as stunned and visibly emotional players and fans looked on. Hamlin is on a ventilator and was “turned onto his stomach” at the hospital to help relieve some of the pressure in his lungs, his uncle Dorrian Glenn told CNN on Tuesday.

Since his hospitalization, Hamlin has received a national outpouring of support from fans and players across the sports world, including more than $7 million donated to his foundation’s GoFundMe toy campaign on Thursday morning. Several athletes wore Hamlin’s number, 3, or his jersey, while teams across the league honored him through jumbotron messages and light displays in their stadiums.

The Bills-Bengals game was postponed after Hamlin collapsed with the Bengals leading 7–3. The NFL is discussing how to handle the incomplete game — which will not continue this week — but has yet to announce a strategy.

Initially considered a major end-of-season matchup with significant playoff implications, the matchup averaged 21.1 million viewers on ESPN during the game, according to Nielsen ratings. After Hamlin’s collapse, viewers grew to an all-time high of 23.9 million, making the broadcast the most-watched “Monday Night Football” in ESPN history.

It remains unclear what caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest, but NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills, said the league will investigate what could have led to the player collapsing during the game.

Whenever a player is evacuated from the field, the NFL and its medical experts conduct a detailed review of what happened, Sills explained in a call with reporters on Wednesday. They also look at the role protective equipment may have played, he said.

In some cases, Sills said, the medical team won’t be able to determine what caused the problem.

The doctor also addressed theories that the cardiac arrest could have been caused by commotio cordis, which occurs when severe trauma to the chest interrupts the heart’s electrical charge, causing dangerous fibrillations.

“You have to have the right kind of punch hitting the right spot in the chest with the right amount of force at the right time in that cardiac cycle. So a lot of things need to happen for that to happen,” he said, stressing that while it’s possible, investigators will consider all options.

Sills attributed the medical team’s “transformative response” when Hamlin collapsed to the “60-minute meeting” held between medical teams and NFL officials prior to each game. During the meeting, teams identify the location of medical equipment and nearby medical centers and establish a chain of command in the event of an emergency, including cardiac arrest, among other things.

The Hamlin meltdown is the latest in a string of recent tragedies to hit the Buffalo community and its beloved football team, including a racist mass shooting and a historic blizzard that left at least 41 dead in Erie County, New York.

A senior official from the Bills organization told CNN’s Coy Wire that they broke down in tears after day and night meetings on Tuesday, sobbing under the weight of the situation.

The series of tough hits for Buffalo has built up emotionally within the organization, the source said, adding that through it all, the team has tried to be a source of strength for the city, the source told Wire.

The source pointed to Buffalo Sabers hockey forward Tage Thompson’s performance on Tuesday night as a “glimmer of hope” at a time when the team needs inspiration.

Hamlin’s jersey number, 3, was a recurring motif throughout the game, played on 3 January. Thompson’s three overtime goals brought the Sabers a win. It was Thompson’s third hat-trick of the season and his third goal came fortuitously in the third minute of extra time.

The Sabers also wore “Love for 3” T-shirts honoring Hamlin before the game.

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