What Stopped NFLer Damar Hamlin’s Heart?
What Stopped NFLer Damar Hamlin’s Heart?

By Jennifer Margulis and Joe Wang

On Friday, December 30, former pro-football lineman Uchechukwu Nwaneri was found unresponsive at his wife’s home. The mainstream media reported that he died of “an enlarged heart and acute heart failure.” He was 38.

Less than two weeks earlier, Grant Wahl, a well-known and well-respected sports reporter, collapsed after laughing at a Tweet.

Wahl was covering the Argentina-Netherlands World Cup match in Qatar. He also died. The media—and his family—told the public that Wahl, 49, suffered a ruptured aortic aneurysm.

Both events were reported in the media. This led to thousands of speculative social media posts, especially on Twitter and Substack, which are two platforms that are not being censored. But neither death aroused much commentary among mainstream pundits,

Three days later, however, the entire world took notice of another untimely, unexpected, and seemingly inexplicable medical emergency.

On January 2, a record 23.8 million viewers were watching in real-time as 24-year-old Damar Hamlin, a safety for the Buffalo Bills, stood up after a seemingly ordinary tackle and collapsed a few seconds later.

Medical professionals rushed to the field and Hamlin received help within ten seconds after he fell to the ground.

He was given CPR, defibrillation, and ventilation, and was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was put in a medically induced coma to protect his brain. (Brain injury is the main cause of mortality following resuscitation after a cardiac arrest.)

Increased Sudden, Often Lethal Cardiac Events

Nearly every industrialized country has been reporting an increase in sudden cardiac events and sudden deaths, particularly in young people. While it is not possible to know how many of these deaths are causally linked to COVID-19 vaccines, countries around the world have been quietly compensating families for the vaccine-induced deaths of their loved ones, and cardiologists in many countries have been pointing out that the vaccines are much more dangerous than the infection and urging their governments to stop giving the vaccines to children and young people.

Despite the urgency of the problem, the calls to investigate vaccine safety and the link between the COVID-19 vaccines and sudden age-inappropriate deaths have not garnered much attention in the mainstream.

That has changed recently. Right-wing media personality Stew Peters released an extremely controversial documentary entitled “Died Suddenly” in late November that focused on mortician reports of unusual clotting in the bodies they were embalming.

Although abnormal blood presentation has been reported in 94 percent of patients who received mRNA vaccines and became subsequently ill, and clotting disorders are now widely recognized as vaccine adverse events in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, “Died Suddenly” was dismissed for being highly sensationalized and promoting false claims by many. Despite the criticism, however, hundreds of millions of people have watched the 69-minute film.

Then, in mid-December, former Wall Street fund manager Edward Dowd, who is an expert at spotting trends, published a book called “Cause Unknown: The Epidemic of Sudden Deaths in 2021 and 2022.”

“Cause Unknown” focused on numerous data sources, including insurance companies, the CDC, and the U.K.’s Office of National Statistics, all of which reveal a spike in all-cause mortality and disability in millennials.

Dowd argued that the cause of these excess deaths is known: the spike coincides with the workplace vaccine mandates put in place by the Biden administration in mid-2021.

Why Did Damar Hamlin Collapse?

Naturally, a cardiac arrest as public as Hamlin’s would draw attention and speculation, speculation that was immediately derided and dismissed as “right-wing conspiracy theory.” On January 3, Forbes reported angrily that “anti-vaxxers” were exploiting his crisis.

NBC even went so far as to state that “Hamlin’s Collapse Spurs New Wave of Vaccine Misinformation, “revealing how pervasive vaccine misinformation remains three years after the pandemic began.”

A Science-Forward Approach Includes Considering the Causal Role of Vaccines

But is speculating whether the COVID-19 vaccines are unintentionally to blame for the rise in cardiac events really promoting “vaccine misinformation”? After all, according to the New York Times, the NFL mandated boosters in December 2021, despite the fact that nearly 95 percent of their players were vaccinated. Furthermore, it is now extremely well documented in the scientific literature that myocarditis (heart inflammation), is a known risk of COVID-19 vaccines, and that it disproportionately affects young men.

In addition, a 2021 peer-reviewed case series suggested that a history of myocarditis increases the risk of commotio cordis. In other words, sudden cardiac death in contact sports is increased by myocarditis.

Furthermore, a large study co-authored by a team of preeminent (and entirely “pro-vaccine”) university-associated medical doctors specifically argued that boosters did not make ethical or medical sense for college students. Their work showed that the shots would generate 18 actual serious adverse events for every COVID-19 hospitalization theoretically prevented. 

Mainstream Media Speculation

NBC acknowledged that “cardiac specialists say it’s too soon to know what caused Hamlin’s heart to stop.”

But this news agency and myriad other media outlets were perfectly happy to speculate themselves as to what they believed to be the most likely cause of Hamlin’s near-death experience: “commotion cordis,” also known sometimes as “cardiac concussion.”

Commotio cordis is cardiac arrest by a blunt trauma to the chest at exactly the right window in the cardiac heart rhythm, a window that is on the order of milliseconds in length.

As Mayo Clinic physiatrist Dr. Brian Sutterer explained in a video posted to his YouTube channel, “What we just witnessed tonight is one of the most rare things we can see in sports medicine.”

“This is almost certainly commotion cordis,” Sutterer continued, “an extremely, extremely rare condition that’s one of those things we typically think we’re only going to read about in textbooks.”

Commotio cordis was once viewed as “exceedingly rare,” according to the authors of a 2009 study, even though the number of reported cases is rising.

2002 study looked at the 128 total cases that were reported to the U.S. Commotio Cordis Registry in the approximately 20 years before September 2001. By 2009, that number had risen to over 180. The authors argued that cases are likely underreported, especially if they resolve themselves. However, they claimed that the condition had received increased attention in the previous six years, making it more likely that at least fatal cases would be reported. An estimated 6.5 cases are reported per year.

The majority of commotio cordis cases occur when a projectile hits an unprotected chest. Baseballs, softballs, and hockey pucks are the most common projectiles that trigger changes in cardiac rhythm.  

Surprisingly, the speed of the projectile matters, with a narrow window of increased risk if the object is traveling between 30 and 50 miles per hour. But it appears that projectiles going at 20 miles per hour do not cause commotion cordis. The fastest NFL player clocks in at approximately 22 mph. 

According to a paper by Dr. Mark Link, an expert in electrophysiology and author of most of the recent papers on the condition, “Instantaneous collapse following the chest blow occurs in approximately one-half of the victims. In the others, collapse follows a brief period of consciousness often marked by extreme lightheadedness.”

That could certainly have been what we saw happen to Hamlin on the football field. However, the vast majority of commotio cordis cases occur in children, especially boys, from four to eighteen years of age. A graphic from the 2009 study indicated a total of four reported cases in adults aged 22 to 24 within a twenty-year span, and only about ten reported cases involving football.

In 2002, only five of the 128 cases to date involved professional athletes. The odds of a 24-year-old professional football player experiencing such an event after an ordinary tackle are indeed “extremely, extremely” low. 

A More Likely Explanation

A more likely, scientifically plausible explanation for Hamlin’s medical emergency is that it was caused by vaccine-induced myocarditis.

Dr. Peter McCullough, one of the most published, articulate, and well-respected cardiologists in the country, has documented dozens of cases of vaccine-induced myocarditis and hundreds more have been detailed in the medical literature.

Myocarditis sometimes causes scarring that enables a surge of adrenaline to trigger cardiac arrest—a surge of adrenaline such as one might experience when executing a tackle on a football field.

“Hamlin and [Uche] Nwaneri actually are showing possibly the two manifestations of myocarditis,” McCullough explained in a recent podcast. “One is a small scar and then an electrical death. The other is actually the development of heart failure and a cardiomyopathic death.” Both are known risks of myocarditis.

The NFL, the team doctors, the family, and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, McCullough said, have a duty to inform the public about Hamlin’s COVID-19 vaccine status rather than dismissing the possibility that the vaccines are a primary cause of these often lethal cardiac events as conspiracy theory.

Everyone, it seems, now knows someone who had life-debilitating health problems or died directly after getting COVID-19 vaccines. Hashtags like #clotshot and #heartattack have been trending on Twitter and other non-censored social media outlets. A scientific review published in December 2022 concluded that “men younger than 40 receiving a second dose of an mRNA vaccine are at greatest risk” of myocarditis, which is a “significant and adverse event associated with COVID-19 vaccination.”

A recent poll found that nearly half of Americans (48 percent) believe that COVID-19 vaccines may be to blame for the wave of sudden unexplained death, and about a quarter reported that they personally know someone among the victims. 

If something good can come from Damar Hamlin’s terrible ordeal, it will be to prompt health professionals around the world to start following a science-forward evidence-based approach to ending the upsurge in excess deaths.

When you follow the science, it becomes clear that it is time to stop giving vaccines or boosters to anyone under 65, especially young athletes, and to start testing and treating vaccine recipients for subclinical myocarditis.

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