Damar Hamlin’s collapse is the latest in history of medical emergencies in sports


(CINCINNATI, Ohio) — Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin remains hospitalized in the intensive care unit at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in critical condition after he collapsed Monday night during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hamlin, 24, went into cardiac arrest with 5:58 left in the 1st quarter and was given CPR on the field before being rushed to the hospital.

“We are grateful and thankful for the outpouring of support we have received thus far,” the Bills tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

However, Hamlin is not the only athlete to suffer a health emergency while playing. NFL players, hockey players, soccer players and others have needed immediate medical attention during a game or practice.

Here are some of the other emergencies that have occurred over the years:

Chuck Hughes, Detroit Lions, 1971

Chuck Hughes, a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, is the only NFL player to ever die on the field while a game is in progress.

The Lions were hosting the Chicago Bears in October 1971. The Lions were down 28-23 late in the 4th quarter when Hughes, 28, entered the game to replace an injured player.

Hughes caught a 32-yard pass from the quarterback and the team began to march towards the end zone, according to the Sarasota Journal. A few plays later, Hughes grabbed his chest and collapsed on the ground. Bears middle linebacker, and future Hall of Famer Dick Butkus signaled to the Lions bench that something was wrong and called for assistance.

The team doctor, and a doctor who had to be a spectator at the game, tried to revive Hughes, according to ESPN. An ambulance took Hughes to Henry Ford Hospital, but he was pronounced dead an hour later, as the game finished.

An Associated Press article at the time of his death said an autopsy confirmed Hughes had undiagnosed arteriosclerosis, which occurs when blood vessels that circulate oxygen and nutrients from the heart to the rest of the body, become hardened and had cut off 70% of the circulation to his heart.

Reggie Lewis, Boston Celtics, 1993

In April 1993, while the Boston Celtics were playing the first in a series of playoff games against the Charlotte Hornets, 27-year-old shooting guard Reggie Lewis collapsed on the ground, according to ESPN.

He was pulled from the game after complaining of dizziness and shortness of breath. The Associated Press reported that the next day he checked into a hospital and was diagnosed with an arrhythmia, a condition that causes abnormal heart beats.

Lewis later sought a second opinion and saw a doctor at Brigham & Women’s Hospital who told him he actually had a much less serious condition, a fainting disorder, according to the Associated Press.

A few months later in July 1993, Lewis was practicing during the offseason at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, when he collapsed and suffered cardiac arrest and died, according to ESPN.

Chris Pronger, St. Louis Blues, 1998

NHL player Chris Pronger, a defenseman for the St. Louis Blues, suffered his medical episode during a second-round playoff game in May 1998 in Detroit against the Detroit Red Wings.

During the game, a slap shot by Red Wings player Dmitri Mironov hit Pronger in the chest, near his heart. Pronger got up, took a couple of steps and collapsed on the ice, unconscious for about 20 seconds, according to NHL.com.

The then-24-year-old was taken to Henry Ford Hospital but was back in action just a few days later after wearing a heart monitor for 24 hours and passing a battery of tests.

It was later determined that Pronger had suffered from commotio cordis, which is when the heart enters a sudden arrhythmia caused by an object hitting the chest, according to the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut. It is seen mostly in athletes who play sports with projectiles such as baseballs, hockey pucks or lacrosse balls.

Pronger expressed support for Hamlin, writing on Twitter Tuesday morning: “Prayers that Damar Hamlin can have the same outcome that I was fortunate to have with my incident. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Damar, his family, teammates and the greater NFL community during this incredibly scary time.”

Kevin Everett, Buffalo Bills, 2007

Hamlin is not the only Buffalo Bills player to suffer a traumatic event on the field. In September 2007, Bills tight end Kevin Everett was injured during the first game of the season.

Everett attempted to tackle Denver Broncos player Domenik Hixon, who was returning the ball after the second-half kickoff, when he sustained a neck injury, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.

Dr. Andrew Cappuccino, team doctor, told the Democrat & Chronicle at the time that Everett, then 25, had suffered a fractured dislocation at the C3 and C4 vertebrae and that his chance of walking again were “slim at best.”

However, over the next several weeks, Everett began regaining feeling and movement in his hands, arms, feet and legs. In December 2007, he walked in public for the first time as he attended the Buffalo Bills’ final regular season game against the New York Giants, reported the Canadian Press.

Eric LeGrand, Rutgers, 2010

College football player Eric LeGrand, then age 20, suffered a severe spinal cord injury in an October 2010 game Rutgers played against the Army Black Knights in New Jersey.

During a kickoff, the top of LeGrand’s head collided with the shoulder of Army player Malcolm Brown, who had received the ball.

LeGrand was unable to move and lay on the ground motionless and unable to breathe. He was rushed to Hackensack University Medical Center where doctors discovered he had fractured his C3 and C4 vertebrae, paralyzing him from the neck down, according to Sports Illustrated.

He eventually was able to slowly wean himself off the respirator and by Thanksgiving of that year, he was off it for good.

In 2013, LeGrand launched Team LeGrand, a fundraising arm of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation that helps raise money for finding treatments and cures for patients with spinal cord injuries.

Christian Eriksen, Denmark’s national soccer team, 2021

Danish soccer player Christian Eriksen was competing in UEFA European Football Championship 2020 in June 2021 on Denmark’s men’s squad when he collapsed on the field about halfway through the game, according to the BBC.

Paramedics issued CPR and used an AED, a small medical device that reads a patient’s heart rhythm and delivers an electric shock if needed.

Eriksen, then 29, was taken to a hospital and the game was suspended. After it was revealed that he was stabilized, the match continued.

It was later confirmed he had suffered from cardiac arrest. A month later the team doctor announced Eriksen was being fitted for an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, a small device that is placed in the chest and helps deliver electric shocks to restore regular rhythm, according to the BBC.

He returned to competition in March 2022.

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