NFL fans who went to -20C game attended by Taylor Swift 'underwent amputations after suffering frostbite'

By John Mercury March 12, 2024

At least “some” NFL fans who attended a near-record cold game in Kansas City suffered extreme frostbite and had to undergo amputations, doctors have revealed.

Spectators braved -20C (-4F) temperatures to watch the Kansas City Chiefs host the Miami Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium in the AFC wildcard round back on 13 January.

The wind chill – what the temperature feels like to the human body – dipped as low as -33C (-27F).

As a result, some fans were treated for frostbite, which causes damage to the skin and tissue, particularly extremities such as fingers and toes, after exposure to freezing temperatures.

FILE -  Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, second from right, and tight end Travis Kelce, third from right, huddle with teammates before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Miami Dolphins Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. Some of the people who attended the near-record cold Chiefs playoff game in January had to undergo amputations, a Missouri hospital said Friday, March 8, 2024. Research Medical Center didn...t provide exact numbers but said in a statement
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Players for the Kansas City Chiefs join a huddle in the freezing cold temperatures. Pic: AP

Jan 13, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Recording artist Taylor Swift and Brittany Mahomes watch game action between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins during the second half of the 2024 AFC wild card game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
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Taylor Swift and Brittany Mahomes watch the game from a box. Pic: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters

The Research Medical Centre in Kansas said it had treated dozens of people who had experienced frostbite during an 11-day cold snap at the beginning of the year.

Twelve of those people, including some who were at the football game, had to undergo amputations involving mostly fingers and toes.

The centre said it was expecting to carry out more surgeries over the next few weeks as “injuries evolve”.

Christine Hamele, associate vice president of HCA Midwest Health, which operates seven hospitals, including the Research Medical Centre and its Grossman Burn Centre, said: “To date, 12 patients have undergone amputation surgeries, some of which attended the Chiefs game.

“Our specialised physicians and expert care team continue to treat and monitor patients’ healing to address long-term needs, and we expect more surgical procedures over the next two to four weeks as their injuries evolve.”

Frost is shown on the eyelashes and hat of a fan watching during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Pic: AP

However, Ms Hamele cautioned against drawing any direct lines between amputations and the 13 January game because the frostbite could have resulted from other exposures.

“Some patients came in post-Chief game, assuming it would heal,” she said.

“When they arrived in the outpatient, they don’t always reference the Chiefs game. For example, one gentleman was at the Chiefs game, but is also a meter reader.”

FILE - Miami Dolphins guard Austin Jackson walks on the field during the first half of the team's NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. While the U.S. is shivering through bone-chilling cold, most of the rest of world is feeling unusually warm weather. Scientists Tuesday, Jan. 16, say that fits with what climate change is doing to Earth. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga, File)
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Miami Dolphins guard Austin Jackson braved the cold. Pic: AP

FILE - A gauge displays the temperature on the field at Arrowhead Stadium during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins, Jan. 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. Some of the people who attended the near-record cold Chiefs playoff game in January had to undergo amputations, a Missouri hospital said Friday, March 8, 2024. Research Medical Center didn...t provide exact numbers but said in a statement Friday that some of the 12 people who had to undergo amputations after the cold snap had been at the game.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
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A temperature gauge at Arrowhead Stadium during the match. Pic: AP

The University of Kansas hospital said it also treated frostbite victims after the game, but didn’t report any amputations.

Frostbite can occur on exposed skin within 30 minutes, Dr Megan Garcia, medical director of the Grossman Burn Centre, said.

She added that the timing can be even shorter if there is a wind chill.

The 13 January game – which ended with a 26-7 victory for Kansas over Miami – became the coldest on record to be held in Arrowhead Stadium history.

At one point during the match, Andy Reid, the head coach of the Chiefs, was seen with a build-up of ice on his moustache.

However, it narrowly missed out on being the coldest game in NFL history, which remains the 1967 NFL Championship in Wisconsin, where temperatures reached -25C, earning it the nickname the “Ice Bowl”.

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid gestures during the first half of the team's NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Miami Dolphins Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
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Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid appeared to have icicles in his moustache. Pic: AP

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Taylor Swift was among the spectators at Arrowhead on 13 January, supporting her boyfriend and Chiefs tight end, Travis Kelce.

However, she avoided the below-freezing temperatures in a luxury suite. Later in the same month, the couple celebrated Kelce’s Super Bowl victory – making headlines around the world.

Outside at the 13 January match, fans were allowed to bring heated blankets into the stadium and small pieces of cardboard to place under their feet on the cold concrete.

Fifteen fans, 10 with cold-related symptoms, were taken to hospitals by the Kansas City Fire Department that evening, according to officials.

In New York, the wild-card game between the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers scheduled for the same day was pushed back due to heavy snow.

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