Bills co-owner Kim Pegula went into cardiac arrest last year, her daughter and U.S. tennis player Jessica wrote in The Players’ Tribune on Tuesday.
In June, the Bills announced that Kim, 53, was receiving treatment for “unexpected health issues,” but did not expand upon the specifics of her condition. The latest public update on her status came June 28, when the family said in a statement that she was “rehabilitating” and “progressing well.”
However, Jessica provided further insight into the situation in her Players’ Tribune article, revealing that her mother went into cardiac arrest at the family home last June. Jessica said that her sister performed CPR on her mother until paramedics arrived and that while Kim has made progress in her recovery, she is still dealing with significant health concerns almost eight months later.
“Today, my mom is still in recovery and although it is the same answer every time someone asks me, it is true, she is improving every day,” Jessica wrote. “She is dealing with significant expressive aphasia and significant memory issues. She can read, write and understand pretty well, but she has trouble finding the words to respond.
“It is hard to deal with and it takes a lot of patience to communicate with her, but I thank God every day that we can still communicate with her at all. The doctors continue to be blown away by her recovery, considering where she started, and her determination is the driving force of that.”
Jessica, currently ranked No. 4 in the world, also pointed to the similarities between her mother’s medical emergency and the one that Damar Hamlin suffered Jan. 2 during a game between the Bills and the Bengals. Hamlin, who also went into cardiac arrest, was hospitalized for more than a week but was discharged Jan. 11 and is now recovering at home.
Pegula, who was in Sydney for a tune-up event before the Australian Open, called the situation involving Hamlin a “bizarre, messed-up, full circle moment” and revealed that she struggled with anxiety upon hearing the news of Hamlin’s medical emergency. She then chose to honor the Bills safety with a touching tribute at the Australian Open, explaining that wearing a No. 3 patch on her skirt was also in recognition of her mother.
“Going into the 2023 Australian Open, I decided to wear the number 3 patch to honor Damar Hamlin. Ironically, yes, I was ranked No. 3 in the world. However, it didn’t feel like it was just for him, it felt like it was for my mom as well,” Pegula wrote. “To see the attention it garnered in Australia, across the world, in a different country, just reminded me why I love sports and the beauty of coming together.”