Medical events that stopped play in major sports

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Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was critically injured Monday night in the first quarter of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hamlin fell moments after being involved in the tackling of Cincinnati receiver Tee Higgins. Hamlin got to his feet, appeared to adjust his face mask with his right hand, then fell backward, about two seconds later. His arms hit the ground at his sides.

Emergency responders tended to him on the field before he was taken by ambulance to a hospital. The game was postponed, then suspended.

A list of some in-game or in-competition medical events that either suspended or postponed the competitions in which they occurred:

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN

The scene in Cincinnati was in some ways reminiscent of what Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen went through during his team’s appearance at the European Championship in June 2021. He collapsed in the 43rd minute of a match against Finland, with doctors later revealing how incredibly close he came to death.

Several medics worked frenetically to give Eriksen chest compressions while his teammates choked away tears and formed a circle around the midfielder to shield the scene from public view. A defibrillator was needed to restart his heart.

That game eventually resumed after a delay of about 90 minutes. Eriksen recovered and played in the World Cup that was held late last year.

KEYONTAE JOHNSON

On Dec. 12, 2020, Johnson was playing for Florida in a game against rival Florida State. He scored on an alley-oop dunk with 16:18 left in the first half for an 11-3 lead. The Seminoles called time-out and Johnson went to the Florida huddle with his teammates. As he returned to the court, he was walking toward the midcourt stripe and collapsed, face-first.

His teammates were asked twice if they wanted to continue the game, and decided to do so. Play was delayed, but only briefly.

He spent two days in a hospital in Tallahassee, then eight more at a hospital in Gainesville, Florida, where the Gators’ campus is. The preseason Southeastern Conference player of the year recovered, but never played for Florida again — except for a ceremonial start 15 month later. He has since transferred to Kansas State and resumed his playing career.

JAY BOUWMEESTER

Playing for the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 11, 2020, Bouwmeester went into cardiac arrest on the bench during the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks.

Athletic trainers from both teams immediately responded, and Bouwmeester eventually received an implantable defibrillator to regulate his heart rhythm. He did not play in the NHL again.

The game was postponed.

JIRI FISCHER

It was the first period of a Detroit game against Nashville on Nov. 21, 2005. Fischer slumped over while seated on the Red Wings bench, and coach Mike Babcock began furiously waving for help.

Fischer had a seizure, fell forward and CPR was quickly administered. His heart had stopped and medical personnel could not find a pulse, Babcock said, before emergency workers shocked his heart and got it beating again.

The game was delayed, then ultimately postponed. Fischer never played again.

HANK GATHERS

On March 4, 1990, Hank Gathers — one of the leading scorers in the country — collapsed and died during Loyola Marymount’s West Coast Conference men’s college basketball tournament game against Portland.

Less than three months earlier, Gathers had collapsed during another game and subsequent tests revealed that he had arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat. He was given medication, and the dosage was eventually lowered.

After a dunk in the tournament game, he collapsed near midcourt. Efforts to resuscitate him on court, in an ambulance and at a nearby hospital failed, and he was pronounced dead about two hours later.

CHUCK HUGHES

On Oct. 24, 1971, Chuck Hughes of the Detroit Lions had a heart attack late in the fourth quarter of an NFL game against the Chicago Bears.

He was officially pronounced dead about 50 minutes after the game, with an autopsy revealing that the heart attack was caused by a massive stoppage in his left coronary artery.

But doctors later said he was essentially dead on the field — and the closest defender to him when he collapsed, Bears star Dick Butkus, immediately began waving for help when Hughes tumbled to the turf, clearly aware of the severity of the situation.

The game was delayed — reports vary as to how long the delay was — and the final 62 seconds were eventually played.

BILL MASTERTON

Masterton died Jan. 15, 1968, two days after suffering a severe head injury while playing for the Minnesota North Stars against the Oakland Seals. His death was believed to be the only caused by an on-ice incident in NHL history.

The game was stopped while doctors worked on Masterton, then resumed later that night.

He never regained consciousness and died from a severe brain injury. Most players of that era in the NHL, Masterton included, did not wear helmets.

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