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Cardiac arrest survivor, doctor react to terrifying situation involving Damar Hamlin during NFL game

Damar Hamlin collapsed during a football game on Monday night and was taken to the Cincinnati hospital.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It was a terrifying and surreal Monday night NFL football game involving the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.

Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during the game and was taken to the Cincinnati hospital where he remains in critical condition.

The game gave Shawn Sima, flashbacks to when his daughter collapsed while running on a treadmill in February 2016.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him stand up and fall right over. I thought oh my god I think I just saw this kid have sudden cardiac arrest," said Sima. 

His daughter Lexi was at the time 16-years-old when she went into sudden cardiac arrest. A cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating.

Lexi now has a defibrillator implanted in her chest.

“I was at the gym running and while I was running, before I even hit the ground, I died and suffered cardiac arrest," said Lexi. 

She says when she fell on the floor there were people around who recognized what was going on, and they did CPR. It took an AED to shock her back to life.

Lexi was flown by helicopter to the hospital and after a couple of days in a coma, she woke up.

A big victory that motivated her father to successfully push for legislation to make CPR mandatory in high schools in Florida.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside the hospital each year and about 90 percent of people die.

I asked UF health Jacksonville cardiologist, Dr. John Catanzaro, about the causes of cardiac arrest.

 “It depends what type of cardiac arrest there are, there’s cardiac arrest in patients who have what we call structural heart disease, or in patients who have artery disease with cholesterol and there’s these rare forms of cardiac arrest where a patient is very young their heart is structurally normal and something like this happens," said Catanzaro. 

Cantanzaro watched the clip of Damar Hamlin collapsing on the field Monday night and while no specifics about Hamlin’s condition have been released, he is sharing his thoughts. 

“In detail, on replay, when he was hit it looked like the blunt force came to his chest and he went down as anyone who receives blunt force would go down but then he got up and everything looked fine for a second and then all of a sudden, he went back down," said Cantanzaro. 

Cantanzaro says he deals with patients with arrhythmias. He says usually the arrhythmia happens, and it takes a second or two for the blood flow to not get to the brain and that's where the patient will fall back down.

Catanzaro hopes this brings more awareness about sudden cardiac arrest which can impact children. 

He hopes it leads to more defibrillators being a youth sporting events.

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