On Jan. 2, the entire sporting world held its breath when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during a Week 17 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.
In solidarity, legendary NHL defenceman Chris Pronger offered an intimate and detailed account of his own experience with the phenomenon through a Twitter thread on Wednesday.
On May 10, 1998, Pronger and the St. Louis Blues faced off against the Detroit Red Wings in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. During the third period, Pronger blocked a slapshot that hit him in the chest — just to the left of his heart — and struggled to get to the bench, eventually collapsing to the ice in a similar way to Hamlin. VIDEO
“I blacked out while on the ice but before passing out I was able to stand up and stumble forward a couple steps before collapsing,” said Pronger over Twitter. “When the trainer got me, my eyes had rolled back in my head and my lips were turning blue. He removed my helmet and felt for a pulse.”
Feeling none, the trainer began performing chest compressions and CPR, rebooting Pronger’s system and making him the first athlete to survive commotio cordis at the time, and only the fourth person to survive the cardiac event known to doctors up to that point. After spending the night in the hospital and the following 24 hours with a heart monitor, he was cleared to play the next game.