HOUSTON – University of Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden remains in the hospital after undergoing surgery on Tuesday for a life-threatening injury he sustained during practice.
Hayden had surgery to repair a tear in the main blood vessel that leads into the heart. The inferior vena cava carries blood from the lower half of the body back to the heart, according to UH team physician Dr. Walter Lowe.
"This injury has never been seen or reported in association with a football injury and is more associated with high speed motor vehicle injuries," Dr. Lowe said in a statement. "The type of injury D.J. had is 95 percent fatal in the field and we are all very thankful for the coordinate response from the University of Houston trainers, EMS paramedics, the trauma team at Memorial Hermann and operating surgeon Dr. John Holcomb."
Hayden is listed in stable, but critical condition at the Memorial Hermann ICU.
The injury happened when Hayden collided with a teammate while trying to catch a pass.
It was a freak accident," Head Coach Tony Levine told the Houston Chronicle. "It was as unfortunate of a situation on a play that I have ever been a part of. It’s something you rarely see in practice and playing football."
Hayden will be out for the rest of the year.
Several teammates have visited him at the hospital.
"Just went & prayed for my bro DJ. He gave me the head nod of agreement. God is teaching me so much about Himself thru all this," tweeted teammate Mikado Hinson.
"Could barely sleep last night. Tossed and turned. Can’t stop thinking about @_Go_DJ. #PrayforDJ recovery!" tweeted Ameen Bahbahani, another teammate.
Hayden, who played high school football at Elkins in Fort Bend County, is a senior and defensive captain for the Cougars.
He is the Conference USA leader with 4 interceptions and has totaled 61 tackles this season.
His biggest play of the season came against UTEP, where he intercepted a pass and ran it back 97 yards for the touchdown.
"D.J. is a tremendous young man and has been a great asset to our program, both on and off the field. I ask that everyone continue to keep D.J. and his family in their thoughts and prayers," Coach Levine said. "We are very fortunate to have some of the nation’s top physicians and medical facilities just minutes away from our campus and I would like to extend our appreciation for their efforts on Tuesday evening."