What Damar Hamlin’s Experience Teaches Us About Cardiac Screenings


It was the biggest game Damar Hamlin had played in since being drafted by the Buffalo Bills with the 212th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. A win would bring the Bills one major step closer to securing the 1 seed in the AFC division, and Hamlin, an up-and-coming safety, had the chance to showcase his skills to the world. However, the game didn’t make it through the first quarter.
With 5:58 left in the quarter, Hamlin made a routine tackle against Tee Higgins, yet the aftermath was nothing short of disastrous. Hamlin stood up to head to the huddle and suddenly collapsed. Within seconds, the entire Bills medical staff surrounded Hamlin, and just like that, a Monday night in America became a nationwide prayer session for a young man’s life.
As a football fanatic, I have almost become accustomed to injuries. However, this was something else entirely. I had never seen both benches 100% cleared and emptied, surrounding an injured player. In a way, both teams created a barricade around Hamlin, leading to a lack of footage and an endless supply of fearful speculation. Later, it was discovered that Hamlin had suffered from cardiac arrest. During the broadcast, the announcers stated that he was being administered CPR on the very field he had worked his whole life to get to.
Nine days later, Hamlin was discharged from the hospital and is currently recovering at home. Although America is relieved to hear that Hamlin is okay, the incident has created enduring concern about the health of young athletes. Damar’s sudden and horrifying collapse has left all of us wondering why and how a simple play could send a top-notch athlete into critical condition for numerous days. Personally, it has made me realize how even the top athletes in the world mandated to regularly undergo various physicals may have underlying and undetected health issues.
This is why I am hoping to raise awareness of free cardiac screenings for student athletes at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn. For the past 14 years, Dr. Sean Levchuck has been administering comprehensive cardiac screenings meant to ensure that student athletes across Long Island are healthy to play. Of the upwards of 2,500 kids whom Dr. Levchuck has helped, ten of them had underlying problems that could have otherwise led to death on the field.
Hamlin’s injury has connected the world in unforeseen ways. Hamlin’s fundraiser, “The Chasing M’s Foundation Community Toy Drive,” had a goal to raise $2,500 to help families in Hamlin’s community who couldn’t afford toys. In just one week, Hamlin’s fundraiser gained an astonishing $9,000,000. That kind of collaborative effort to make a difference is exactly what these free screenings are. Just as Hamlin’s recent experience has raised awareness of Hamlin’s toy drive, I hope it also helps to spread the message to student athletes of the importance of getting a cardiac screening.
It should also be mentioned that Buffalo Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington saved Damar Hamlin’s life on the grass of Paycor Stadium. Kellington relied on two tools to achieve this miraculous feat: CPR and an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). Let us all survey our own communities, ensuring that our facilities and professionals are equipped with everything needed to keep athletes safe. During the cardiac screenings – which are available through May for ninth through 12th graders – Dr. Levchuck measures the septum and the BPM’s of his patients, conducts an EKG, and assesses the right and left coronary and LV functions. With the emergence of new interests and awareness in cardiac issues, I think it is extremely important that student athletes across Long Island see Dr. Levchuck. A cardiac screening helps to remove uncertainty. So, if you’re a parent or a student athlete, call 516-629-2013 to schedule an appointment to ensure your child’s safety with Dr. Levchuck. If Hamlin’s situation isn’t evidence enough that everyone should be screened, then I don’t know what is.
—By Brandon Newman, an 11th Grade Syosset Student

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