High schools: Chaz Orr is the heart of Washington's baseball team

Orr had successful open-heart surgery in October — his second in his young, 14-year life — and has since become an inspiration for the school’s baseball team, successfully working his way back to the field.
by Jacob Unruh Modified: April 17, 2014 at 6:16 pm •  Published: April 17, 2014

WASHINGTON — Chaz Orr has a scar in the middle of his chest stretching the length of his sternum.

He has a similar, but older one, on his back.

“When they said I had to have open-heart surgery, all I could think about was if I was going to live,” said Orr, a freshman at Washington.

Orr had successful open-heart surgery in October — his second in his young, 14-year life — and has since become an inspiration for the school’s baseball team, successfully working his way back to the field.

He’s done more than just play, though. He’s become the starting second baseman and No. 3 hitter in the lineup while delivering key hits and even throwing well on the mound.

“He’s a little bitty, short and chubby kid, but the kid can play baseball,” Washington senior Bo Nixon said. “He’s our best baseball player on the team. As a leader and senior on this team, I look up to him. He’s the leader from the start of the game until the finish. He’s the one who keeps us going.”

Orr, who is 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds, is hitting .250 with two home runs and 10 runs batted in this season. He’s also 2-2 on the mound.

THE LONG JOURNEY

Chaz Orr’s focus is on the team first. On Oct. 14, though, his focus was on surviving.

His heart issues started when he was 17 months old. Diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta, Orr had to have surgery to fix the condition, which involves narrowing of the aorta, and left him with the scar on his back.

The surgery, though, was a temporary fix. Orr always knew he would have to have another surgery.

“Ever since the first surgery, we had known he had a valve that leaked,” said Orr’s father, Matt.

Chaz, however, started having breathing problems last spring. He was fatigued and didn’t even want to finish a baseball game.

It was eventually determined he needed to have full cardiac bypass. The Orrs turned to the doctor who performed Chaz’s first surgery, Christopher Knott-Craig in Memphis, Tenn.

“From the day they said Knott-Craig was doing it, I was confident that he could do it and that I would come back,” Orr said. “I didn’t know this well, but I knew I was going to come back and be able to play again.”

The day was Oct. 12. The Orrs had a long drive to Memphis planned, but first they had a detour to Shawnee with Kailee, a junior, playing in the state championship softball game. The entire family watched her and the Warriors win the title, but did not waste time after the game.


by Jacob Unruh
Reporter
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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