FOX 26 Sports has learned University of Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden remains hospitalized at Memorial Hermann after he suffered an injury in a freak accident during practice on Tuesday that could have been fatal.
Sources with knowledge of Hayden's situation told FOX 26 the main blood vessel that leads to Hayden's heart was torn and if it was not for the quick action of the medical staff at the University of Houston and doctors at Memorial Hermann, the injury could have been fatal.
Sources told FOX 26 Hayden is listed in stable, but critical condition at Memorial Hermann Hospital in the intensive care unit.
Because of privacy laws UH officials cannot comment on or confirm any medical information related to Hayden.
Two weeks ago against UTEP Hayden had two interceptions, returned one for a touchdown and was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family," said UH coach Tony Levine. "The thing I can confirm is that he is done for the season playing here at the University of Houston.
"It was a freak accident. "It's (as) unfortunate of a situation and a play as I've ever been a part of. It's something you rarely see in practicing and playing football."
One of Hayden's close friends, former Cougars defensive end David Hunter, who is in his first season with the Houston Texans, visited Hayden in the hospital on Wednesday.
"He had good spirits," Hunter said. "He was able to shake his head and stuff like that, so everything was good.
Hunter said it was emotional for him to see his friend and former teammate in this situation.
"It was tough when you see a guy have a freak accident happen like that, and it's somebody who works so hard, somebody who truly loves the game, especially to one of your good friends, you kind of take a step back and think about a lot of things," Hunter said.
Hunter was just glad he had the opportunity to let Hayden and his family know how he felt.
"I went to let his family know I was there for him," Hunter said. "D.J. has had a lot of support.
"I know just about the whole team has been up there to see him, and when I saw his mom I just gave her a hug, and she told me everything is going to be alright."
Walter Lowe, M.D., University of Houston head team physician, confirmed Thursday that Hayden required immediate surgery for a tear of the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body back to the heart. Lowe described the injury as very serious and life threatening while commending the coordinated response from the University of Houston Athletics Training Staff, EMS paramedics and the trauma staff at Memorial Hermann.
The University of Houston Athletics Department will release further updates on Hayden as they become available.
Dr. Lowe released the following statement on Thursday:
This injury has never been seen or reported in association with a football injury and is more associated with high speed motor vehicle injuries. 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.
Levine released the following statement on Thursday:
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. 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.