HOUSTON – Houston Cougar defensive back D.J. Hayden was released from the hospital Monday, six days after suffering a life-threatening injury.
Hayden suffered a tear of the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from to the lower part of the body to the heart.
University of Houston team physician Dr. Walter Lowe said the injury is fatal 95-percent of the time. Lowe said there were no other known cases of having such an injury caused by football.
Doctors at Memorial Hermann Texas Trauma Institute were pleasantly surprised at Hayden’s progress.
"Looking at the whole course of events and the severity of the injury, D.J. has progressed remarkably well and is out a lot sooner than expected. He’s got a lot of healing left to do as the procedure to repair the inferior vena cava is much like a heart transplant," Dr. Lowe said. "The sternum should take around three months to heal and D.J. is expected to be able to resume normal activities without contact in three-to-four months."
The injury happened when Hayden collided with a teammate while trying to catch a pass.
Hayden, who played high school football at Elkins in Fort Bend County, is a senior and defensive captain for the Cougars.
He was 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.