HOUSTON – A University of Houston defensive back left a hospital Monday, six days after a hit in practice tore a major vein that feeds his heart and left him in critical condition.
The school said cornerback D.J. Hayden was discharged from Memorial Hermann-Texas Trauma Institute in Houston. Hayden and his family won't be available for comment immediately, UH athletics spokesman David Bassity said.
The senior was taken by ambulance to Memorial Hermann Hospital after the collision last Tuesday. Hayden was rushed into immediate surgery for a tear of the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart.
The injury is 95 percent fatal in the field and is most commonly associated with high-speed motor vehicle injuries, team physician Dr. Walter Lowe said.
"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," Lowe said.
"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," 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."
Hayden was tied for the Conference USA lead with four interceptions and had returns for touchdowns in consecutive games against SMU and UTEP earlier this season. He was named the league's Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 29 after picking off two passes in the 45-35 victory over the Miners.
The 6-foot Hayden transferred to Houston after helping Navarro College win the 2010 national championship. In his first season in Houston, Hayden led the team with 11 pass breakups and five forced fumbles, helping the Cougars finish with a school-record 13 victories and a No. 18 national ranking.
The Cougars (4-6, 3-3 C-USA) have two games left in their 2012 regular season, starting with Saturday's game at Marshall (3-3, 4-6).