Damar Hamlin Awake and Holding Hands With Family, Agent Says

The Buffalo Bills safety suffered cardiac arrest on the field during Monday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is awake and has been holding hands with family in the hospital after suffering cardiac arrest during Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, his agent, Rob Butler, told CNN on Thursday.

During an appearance on NFL Now on Thursday, league insider Ian Rapoport also reported that Hamlin had opened his eyes on Wednesday night.

"He has been responsive, which is extremely positive -- neurologically intact, is how the Bills reported it -- and has been gripping the hands of those close to him," Rapoport noted.

Agency 1 Sports, who represents Hamlin, tweeted an update on the 24-year-old's health on Thursday, writing, "The outpouring of support for Damar across the nation has been amazing. Thank you for the calls, messages and emails. Damar has made substantial improvement overnight. We are so thankful for all the first responders, doctors, hospital staff and everyone who has played a role in this process. Please continue to pray for Damar and we will provide updates as they are available."

The Bills also shared an update on Hamlin's health via Twitter on Thursday.

"Per the physicians caring for Damar Hamlin at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Damar has shown remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours," the tweet reads. "While still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact. His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress."

The statement concluded, "We are grateful for the love and support we have received."

During the first quarter of Monday's matchup, Hamlin tackled Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, and both men appeared to be uninjured following the tackle. However, shortly after, Hamlin appeared to stumble and collapse on the field. He was swiftly attended to by medical personnel, who reportedly gave the athlete CPR on the field before ultimately transporting him to a hospital, where he is currently receiving treatment.

ET spoke with Dr. Merije T. Chukumerije, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Beverly Hills, California, on Tuesday about what could have led to the NFL star's cardiac arrest and what his chances of survival are following the scary incident. 

"What we saw was a player who had a direct impact to the middle of his chest, and this is what we consider blunt trauma. And sports is one area that we see that happen often, but we also see it in everyday life," Chukumerije explains. "So, when someone has a sudden impact or blunt trauma to the chest, if it happens at a specific part of the cardiac cycle, then that can lead to a ventricular arrhythmia or an unstable heart arrhythmia, which can ultimately lead to sudden cardiac arrest and unfortunately sudden cardiac death."

While Chukumerije said survival rates after performing CPR are fairly low, coming in at only 15 to 20 percent, Hamlin's young age is the best thing the doctor said the athlete has going for him.

"His young age is the best thing he has going for him, 'cause he actually has a better chance of survival because of that. And the fact that he's young and he's healthy. However, his young age did not have anything to do with what happened to him, and in this situation, it's likely just the bad timing of the impact to his chest, which these players put themselves at risk for each time," the doctor explained..

"The fact that he did subsequently get CPR, and from what we were told, that he had his rhythm restored, that also bodes well for his survival, so when we see these things that happen immediately, that is when we know whether someone is going to have a positive or negative trajectory, and thankfully from what I saw, I am hopeful that he will have a positive trajectory," Chukumerije added.

See more on Hamlin in the links and video below.