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UTGSM Alum Honored by National Football League

The University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine (UTGSM) alumni, Dr. Valerie Sams, was honored at a pre-Super Bowl event for her role in helping to save Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin. Dr. Sams, who completed her residency in General Surgery at UTGSM from 2008 to 2013, is currently serving as a trauma surgeon in the U.S. Air Force and is also the Director of the Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills (C-STARS) program at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

On January 2, 2023, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and Dr. Sams, who was on call for duty at the time, responded to the emergency and coordinated with the medical team to get Hamlin admitted to the hospital. Despite initial fears, Hamlin made a full recovery and was released from the hospital after just a week.

The National Football League recognized Dr. Sams and about twenty additional UC Health clinicians who provided medical care to Hamlin at the UC Medical Center on February 9, 2023, in Glendale, Arizona, at a pre-Super Bowl event. “It was such an honor to be recognized by the NFL and great to see Mr. Hamlin, we are all thrilled at how well he is doing,” stated Dr. Sams. “I feel incredibly proud to be a part of this remarkable health care team and first responders at UC Health. I am thankful for the opportunities the Air Force has provided me to sustain my skills in order to take care of not only the Cincinnati community but also the men and women who serve our country when I am called upon to do so.” Although Dr. Sams was unable to stay for the on-field recognition at the Super Bowl on Sunday February 12, 2023, as she was on clinical service that week, her presence at the pre-event was a testament to her skill, dedication, and compassion.

“Hearing about Dr. Sams involvement in the care of Damar Hamlin was reinforcement of our experience with her as a surgical resident. She has always demonstrated great patient care with a focus on the treatment of the critically injured,” said Dr. Freeman, UTGSM Department of Surgery Chair. “As a UT Department of Surgery alumnus, we are all proud of what Dr. Sams has accomplished in her role as a leading Trauma Surgeon for our nation.”


Photo Credit: UC Health

Posted: February 17, 2023


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