AMESBURY — Casey Surgent missed his junior basketball season to undergo heart surgery, only to return to game action this year. His commitment to the Indians and perseverance through difficult times has earned him the 2014 James Young Courage Award.
“James Young is a fellow from Merrimac who had both arms amputated in a horrible accident while working for the utility company,” said Tom Connelly, a high school referee and Surgent’s neighbor, who nominated him for the award. “Jim was a ref and he was working with high voltage electricity and suffered a horrific accident where he lost both arms. The award is named after him.”
In a nomination letter to the head of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO), Connelly wrote that Surgent is a “great kid, hard worker and has overcome some huge obstacles to play the game he really loves.”
Surgent underwent a heart surgery that was not only planned for years, but was expected since his birth. Born with aortic stenosis of the heart, or a valve disease that narrows the passage of the heart, Surgent was operated on immediately after his birth. He knew that a second surgery was imminent, though was unsure of when.
“I had it since I was born and in July of 2012 I had my second open heart surgery,” Surgent said. “It had to be done. When I was younger I was supposed to get it done, but the doctor said I could keep putting it off while the valve was working properly. Finally, they said I had to get it done with, so I did.”
Surgent spent six days at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, including 14 hours in intensive care following the procedure.
“We were nervous as hell the day of his surgery,” said his father, Mark Surgent.
“It was supposed to be at noon, so we got there at 9 a.m., but they had complications and didn’t even take him in until 5 p.m. He hadn’t eaten anything all day, but he never complained; he sat on his tablet and played computer games all night while he waited. Nothing fazes him.