Former Washington Redskin linebacker Harold McLinton remained in critical but stable condition at Washington Hospital Center yesterday after undergoing 19 hours of emergency surgery to repair massive damage caused by a hit-and-run accident Wednesday night.
Doctors say that McLinton's chances of survival have improved significantly since the accident. Dr. Howard Champion, the director of the hospital center's shock trauma unit, said, "He got through the first 24 hours, so the outlook today is far better than it was yesterday. But he is lucky to be alive."
Doctors are encouraged by the fact that they were able to stop the massive internal bleeding which had required transfusions of more than 200 units of whole blood and blood products, and that McLinton's vital organs and central nervous system are functioning well. "He is conscious and recognizes voices," Champion said.
Hospital spokesman Jane Snyder said, "When one of the nurses told him that one of his former coaches had called to say he was rooting for him, he squeezed her hand and that's good."
Champion said that the next week to 10 days will be critical for McLinton, who suffered a significant head injury, as well as an incapacitating injury to his left leg. Although his heart, cardiovascular system and lungs all are functioning, McLinton is breathing with the aid of a respirator, which, doctors say, is normal after accidents of this magnitude.
In cases like this, Champion said, doctors might anticipate some kidney problems in the next three days because of the "massive amount of soft tissue damage in the area," and problems "with the ability to resist infection which is compromised by profound shock."
More than 300 people have donated blood at the hospital center since McLinton was admitted. The blood bank will be open from 8 to 4 today. On Monday, the Redskins will be donating blood in the hospital auditorium and signing autographs for other donors.
The Redskin team physician has prohibited players on the active roster from donating blood before Sunday's game. But offensive tackle George Starke, who is on the injured reserve list, was one of more than 200 fans and friends who donated blood on Thursday. Starke said, "Giving blood is such a removed form of helping. It's such an impersonal thing, such a faceless gift. Nonetheless, it's what he needed."
Former teammate Brig Owens said, "Harold's a fighter. There's no question in my mind, he's going to make it. We've got faith in him. And I'm sure he's got faith in himself."