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WEST LINN, Ore. -- The high school football player who had open-heart surgery last Monday is thankful to be alive as he prepares to leave the hospital soon, to recover at home.

Hayward Demison suffered a near-fatal cardiac arrest during a Central Catholic football game against Canby earlier this month.

Background: HSfootball player revived after heart stops

His doctors held a press conference at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland Thursday morning, following his surgery, but the 17-year-old did not attend the briefing. His father spoke on his behalf and said Hayward was in good spirits.

It s been tiresome... but he s recuperating, with the family supporting him. I m just glad the surgery is done and he s recovering, his father, Hayward Demison II said. He s very humbled. He s thankful to be alive.

Hayward s surgeon drew a sketch by hand to show reporters the abnormality in Demison s heart and the cuts made on his coronary artery, in order to reduce his risk of potentially fatal heart problems.

The most important thing is to make sure Hayward stays safe, said cardiovascular surgeon John Iguidbashian.

Hayward will need to go through two phases of recovery now, Iguidbashian said. First, he will go home in a day or two to rest and allow his sternum to heal. Then, he will start a reconditioning program to get back in shape, which will include testing to determine if he can return to competitive sports.

Hayward has said that he wants to play football again as soon as possible. We can t say for sure if he ll be able to get back into competitive sports in the future, said James Kyser, Hayward s cardiologist, but it was very important that it was caught and corrected at this time.

Hayward didn t know he had a defective, left coronary artery until he suffered the cardiac arrest after he scored the game-winning touchdown for Central Catholic High. It was actually a life-long ailment that had never been diagnosed.

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