ST. LOUIS — The moment Bills Safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during a Monday Night Football matchup between the Bills and Bengals, many couldn’t imagine being a part of such a frightening situation.
But some could.
In 2002, St. Louis CITY SC Sporting Director Lutz Pfannenstiel was playing goalkeeper for Bradford Park Avenue during a Northern Premier League derby match against Harrogate Town on Boxing Day, Dec. 26. During a run of play, Harrogate striker Clayton Donaldson collided with Pfannenstiel.
“His knee went right into my sternum,” Pfannenstiel recalled. “In my case, the lungs collapsed first. I had no pulse. The heart stopped beating.”
Later coined the ‘Kiss of Life,’ Pfannenstiel was revived by Physiotherapist Ray Killick after receiving CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
It is believed Pfannenstiel died on three separate occasions before being taken to the hospital.
“My first sentence [when I woke up] was can I get back to the field,” Pfannenstiel said with a laugh. “It changed a lot, my thinking, of the priorities of life.”
Against the opinions of medical professionals, friends and family, Pfannenstiel was back on the pitch just seven days later.
“I think it’s even a bigger shock for the people closest to you, the people that watch it or the people that are standing right next to you than it is for yourself,” Pfannenstiel said. “You don’t feel it. You don’t know anything [as it’s happening].”
The sentiment rang true following the events on Monday night, as Bills and Bengals coaches, players and staff prayed and wept for their teammate and competitor Damar Hamlin as he was taken off the field in an ambulance.
Like Pfannenstiel, the same competitive spirit shown by the former goalkeeper when he first awoke was shown by the Bills safety as well.
“[Wednesday night] he was able to emerge and follow commands and even asked who won the game,” University of Cincinnati Medical Proffesional Timothy Pritts M.D. said of Hamlin.
The UC Medical representative simply responded:
“Yes Demar you won. You won the game of life.”