A day after visiting Capitol Hill, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin met with President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday in support of legislation calling for increased access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in schools.
First responders using an AED saved Hamlin's life when he collapsed on the field with cardiac arresting in January during a "Monday Night Football" game between the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.
Hamlin arrived to his meeting with Biden holding a Bills jersey, and the president's Twitter account shared a photo of their meeting.
Damar Hamlin’s courage, resilience, and spirit inspired the American people.— President Biden (@POTUS) March 30, 2023
And what's more: he turned recovery into action – and our country is better for it.
It was my honor to have him and his family here today. pic.twitter.com/xju70wnAzl
"The president thanked Damar for his courage, resilience and can-do spirit which has inspired the American people," a White House statement reads. "He commended Damar for his efforts — including through legislation — to bring people together and make life-saving technologies more widely available."
On Wednesday, Hamlin helped introduce the bipartisan Access to AEDs Act brought to the House of Representatives by Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-Fla.) and Bill Posey (R-Fla.) He also met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and gave him a customized Bills jersey.
"Sudden cardiac arrest happens to more than 7,000 kids under the age of 18 every year in our country – 7,000 kids every year," Hamlin said Wednesday. "The majority of the kids impacted are student-athletes, and research shows that one in every 300 youth has an undetected heart condition that puts them at risk.
"For schools that have AEDs, the survival rate for the children from sudden cardiac arrest is seven times higher."
Hamlin spoke alongside Kentucky resident Matthew Mangine, whose 16-year-old son Matthew Mangine Jr. died after suffering cardiac arrest during soccer practice in 2020. Mangine called not only for increased access to AEDs but for more training on how to use them. He said that their were five AEDs on campus when his son collapsed, but that none were put to use.
"We're not just trying to provide AEDs to schools," Mangine said. "Our goal is education. Education is the key. What we saw on 'Monday Night Football' was muscle memory. We saw everybody jump into action. We saw them do what they needed to do to save a life. That's what we need to teach our coaches and that's what we need to teach our young people."
Hamlin, 25, collapsed on the field during the Jan. 3 game after receiving contact to his chest on a routine tackle. Players on the field immediately realized that the situation was serious, and first responders soon surrounded Hamlin to administer emergency treatment. They revived Hamlin using CPR and an AED before he was transported to a local hospital via ambulance. The game was canceled.
Hamlin recovered and was released from the hospital a week later. He's since made public appearances at Bills games and at the Super Bowl and is now advocating for increased awareness of heart conditions. Hamlin said in February that his goal is to play football again and that he's grateful to have received "a second chance" at life.