Former Washington Redskins linebacker Harold McLinton, struck by a hit-and-run driver Wednesday night, was in "extremely critical" condition last night after undergoing 19 hours of emergency surgery.
By the time a team of 10 Washington Hospital Center doctors and nurses finished operating at 7 p.m., McLinton had received more than 100 pints of whole blood as well as a quantity of fresh frozen plasma.
As the surgical team worked yesterday, hundreds of area sports fans and some of McLinton's former teammates flocked to donor centers in response to the urgent need for blood.
Former Redskins guard Willie Banks summed up the feelings of the more than 300 fans and friends -- they included police officers, Capitol Hill statisticians and legal secretaries on lunch hour -- who streamed to the Hospital Center to roll up their sleeves and donate.
"I came . . . to the aid of a trouper," said banks. "He would do the same for anyone who needed him . . . With our help and with God's, he'll make it."
McLinton's marathon operation, which began shortly before midnightt Wednesday, was for what a hospital official described as fractures of the pelvis, left leg and collarbone.
The 33-year old former linebacker, who played 137 games over 10 seasons, also suffered head injuries and extensive internal injuries, which required the massive transfusion of type O-positive blood.
McLinton's injuries are associated who a "poor" chance for recovery, Dr. Howard Champion, director of the hospital center's shock trauma unit, said yesterday, while surgery was still under way.
"The outcome is hinged on our ability to treat the injuries and to keep his vital organs functioning," the doctor said . . . overall outcome is likely to be poor on a statistical basis."
Champion also said that McLinton was on a respirator throughout the surgery and that drugs were used to keep his heart beating.
According to D.C. police reports, the 6-foot-2 McLinton was standing alongside a car whose woman driver had parked it on the shoulder of the northbound side of Rte. 295, just south of the Portland Street SF, exit, about 10:15 p.m. Wednesday when a white Mustang slammed into him, throwing him more than 50 feet through the air.
The former linebacker was airlifted by a U.S. Park Police helicopter to the Medstar Unit at the Hospital Center, where he was reported to be "in severe shock," said semiconscious. He was rushed into surgery a short time later.
Police said McLinton and the woman, who police declined to identify, had been at a speaking engagement at Lorton Reformatory prior to the incident. McLinton, unfamiliar with the area, had asked the woman if he could follow her back toward Washington. They apparently stopped near the exit, where he was thinking her for her help when he was hit by the car.
The driver turned himself in to police at 11 a.m., yesterday, police said, after he realized he may have been involved in the incident.
Police identified him as Larry Naylor, a 32-year-old Air Force sergeant presently stationed at Bolling Air Force Base. He was charged with leaving after colliding and was released on his own recognizance pending a trial later this month.
The section of the road where the incident occured was described by police as without lights and relatively dark. Investigators said that neither of the two parked cars was on the roadway and that McLinton was standing off the road as he talked to the woman in the car parked behind his.
According to a hospital spokeswoman, local radio stations appealed to their listeners to donate blood when the supply of O positive blood at area hospitals and blood banks began to dwindle early yesterday morning.
Hospital switchboards then were jammed with calls from fans wishing to donate. As the hallway near the donor center at the Hospital Center began to fill, hospital officials began referring donors to their neighborhood blood banks, where they could donate blood in McLinton's name.
Meanwhile, at Redskin Park, several members of the team who know McLinton expressed sorrow and shock.
"He's a first-class guy all the way," said safety Ken Houston.
"One time he got up and made a speech in a meeting when we were all real down about how tough it was to play with an injury, and then he said. 'I've been playing with a broken neck.' He had a fractured vertebra and had been playing with it.
"He was always one solid piece of tape. No one knew he was hurting except me and a couple of his other friends."
Redskin Coach Jack Pardee, who himself overcame cancer more than 10 years ago, offered McLinton this advice: "I'd tell him to be thankful for all his friends. They'll supply the support, he'll do the rest."
McLinton, a native of Fort Valley, Ga., attended Southern University and joined the Redskins on March 27, 1969, after being selected in the sixth round of the 1969 draft.
He was dropped on the eve of the 1979 season.
During one stretch of his four-season Redskin career, McLinton -- known as "tank" among his teammates -- played middle linebacker in every game. Still, he was considered a relatively unsung defensive mainstay who got the job done and played despite injuries.
The holder of a bachelor of Science degree in marketing. McLinton, while still with the Redskins, had begun an offseason job with Metro as youth service specialist.
Recently he had been involved in a Metro program aimed at curbing vandalism.
In 1979, shortly after his Redskin career ended, McLinton helped coach the University of the District of Columbia football team.