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Bills safety Damar Hamlin released from Cincinnati hospital, returns to Buffalo

Bills safety Damar Hamlin has been released from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and transferred to a Buffalo-area hospital just one week after he suffered a cardiac arrest during a game on Jan. 2, UC health physicians announced on Monday.

Hamlin will continue to undergo tests and be monitored back in Buffalo.

"I traveled with him to the airport this morning with our UC Health air care and local care crew, including teammates that were with us on the field when Damar Hamlin collapsed," Dr. William Knight told reporters on Monday. "He landed safely and, as standard with anybody who has gone through what he's gone through this past week and certainly after flying on a plane, he's going to be observed and monitored to ensure that there's no impact on the flight of his condition or on his lungs."

"Dr. [Timothy] Pritts and I have spoken extensively with his air team in Buffalo, and I can confirm that he's doing well and this is the beginning of the next stage of his recovery. ... Since our last update to you, Damar Hamlin has met a number of key milestones on his journey to recovery."

Knight said that Hamlin has been able to walk and tolerate a "regular diet," and has been undergoing physical and occupational therapy as he continues to progress in his recovery. Knight added that Hamlin remained in the UCMC surgical intensive care unit until he was released Monday.

Doctors said Monday that Hamlin did not suffer "any cervical spine injury" and that Hamlin currently is able to walk with "a normal gait" as a product of how he remains "neurologically intact."

"He walks normally," Knight said. "He is admittedly a little weak. I don't think that's of any real surprise after what he went through, just regaining his strength and that's part of his recovery process."

Pritts said Monday that a standard recovery from what Hamlin experienced is "measured in weeks to months," though Hamlin has "been a little bit ahead of that at each stage."

"The goal for every patient who suffered a serious illness or injury is to help them to return as close to baseline as possible," Pritts said. "So, we anticipate that he would have likely ongoing needs. Whether it is therapy or working with different specialists to get him as close to where he really can be. To echo what we talked about on Thursday, he appears to be neurologically completely intact, and there's no reason to believe that he won't continue his path to recovery."

Bills head coach Sean McVay told reporters on Monday that he and general manager Brandon Beane were able to visit Hamlin after he returned to Western New York.

"We're excited that he's back in Buffalo," McVay said. "He's doing well. A little bit tired, but it was good to see him in person for the first time in a while."

Hamlin had his breathing tube removed Friday and has been able to talk to his family, his care team and the Bills. The second-year player addressed the team via FaceTime on Friday, telling them, "Love you boys."

Hamlin was able to watch the Bills' game on Sunday against the New England Patriots -- an emotional 35-23 victory that included a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown from Bills running back Nyheim Hines on the game's opening play.

"He did watch the game on Sunday," Pritts said. "He was beyond excited and feels very supported by the outpouring of love from across the league, and especially from the Buffalo area. We've learned this week that the Bills Mafia is a very real thing, and we all feel the love from you all in Western New York. He watched the game yesterday. When the opening kickoff was run back, he jumped up and down, got out of his chair, set I think every alarm off in the ICU in the process, but he was fine. It was just an appropriate reaction to an exciting play. He very much enjoyed it and enjoys the support from everyone."

Bills quarterback Josh Allen spoke Sunday of the "spiritual" nature of Hines' touchdown.

"I can't remember a play that touched me like that, Allen said. "I don't think in my life. It's probably No. 1."

Hamlin also FaceTimed with the team following the win on Sunday and was presented the game ball.

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