Houston cornerback suffered near fatal injury in practice after tearing large vein in leg

Frank Schwab
November 8, 2012

A routine play in a normal football practice this week at the University of Houston quickly turned into a life-and-death situation.

Houston released information concerning an injury suffered by cornerback D.J. Hayden on Tuesday, and all we can say is we're very thankful Hayden is alive. The Houston team doctor said the type of injury Hayden suffered results in fatality 95 percent of the time.

According to CougarsDen.com, a normal collision with a teammate in practice left Hayden with massive internal bleeding that almost took his life. The injury was a tear of the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body back to the heart. That injury is unprecedented on a football field.

"This injury has never been seen or reported in association with a football injury and is more associated with high-speed motor vehicle injuries," head team physician Dr. Walter Lowe said in a release. "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."

Given his low odds of survival at the time of the injury, and that it happened on a football field during practice, the efforts to save Hayden's life had to be incredible. The school said Hayden is in stable yet critical condition.

Houston coach Tony Levine also released a statement about Hayden, a senior who was Conference USA's Newcomer of the Year last season and earned second-team All-Conference honors.

"D.J. is a tremendous young man and has been a great asset to our program, both on and off the field," Levine said. "I ask that everyone continue to keep D.J. and his family in their thoughts and prayers. 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. We thank you for respecting the privacy of D.J. and his family at this time. We look forward to supporting D.J. on his road to recovery."

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