‘American Idol’ Finalist Undergoes 10-Hour Surgery


Heavy Surgeons working on a patient in operating room

Fans and friends are breathing a sigh of relief knowing that gifted jazz bassist and singer Casey Abrams, who placed sixth on “American Idol” in 2011, is recovering after a complicated 10-hour surgery on June 22, 2023.

Following a scary year of health crises, including life-saving emergency surgery in April, Abrams emerged from his latest operation feeling grateful and hopeful for a more normal future despite the need for another surgery ahead. Here’s what you need to know:

Casey Abrams Undergoes Complicated J-Pouch Surgery After Years of Ulcerative Colitis

Abrams has been open about his struggles with ulcerative colitis since his journey on “American Idol,” when a flare-up landed him in the hospital and caused him to miss one of the live elimination shows on “Idol” due to his need for two blood transfusions.

According to the Chrohn’s & Colitis Foundation, “Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the large intestine, in which the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and develops tiny open sores, or ulcers.”

Because many patients are embarrassed to talk about the symptoms — including urgent bowel movements, bloody stool, abdominal pain and blood in the stool that can lead to weight loss, anemia and other side effects — many people are not aware of the condition, so Abrams has been celebrated as a courageous spokesperson for those with the disease.

“It’s really not talked about that much because you’re going to the bathroom 10 to 14 times a day during a flare-up and there’s blood and it’s kind of embarrassing,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2011.

After years of his symptoms remaining manageable, Abrams began experiencing an increase in issues in September 2022, when he was hospitalized for over a week. At the time, he wrote on Instagram that he was feeling better and thankful for good care.

However, Abrams revealed in November that he’d been rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. In an Instagram video from his hospital bed, he said his longtime battle with ulcerative colitis was over because he had to have his entire colon removed due to uncontrollable bleeding.

“I went to the hospital 4 times and on my 4th visit, I was bleeding so much that I had to have an emergency surgery to save my life,” Abrams captioned his social media post.

Over the past seven months, Abrams healed from that surgery and was cleared for the second phase of reconstruction, an operation known as “j-pouch surgery,” according to Mayo Clinic, during which surgeons build a j-shaped pouch to keep the patient from needing “a permanent opening in the abdomen (stoma) for passing bowel movements.”

In an Instagram post on June 25, Abrams shared a video of himself in his hospital bed.

“Hey, I just got the first part of my j-pouch surgery and I’m feeling pretty good,” he said groggily. “And I’ll fill you guys in with more things that are happening. Much love.”

He captioned the video by writing, “June 22nd after my 10 hour surgery to form my new j-pouch, where my colon used to be. Thanks to everyone sending me well wishes and who contributed to my go fund me. More updates to come. 2 surgeries down, 1 to go!”

According to Mayo, patients like Abrams need to rest and eat only easily-digestible foods for several months before a final surgery to complete the process.

Fans and ‘Idol’ Friends Offer Love & Support to Casey Abrams

Casey Abrams

GettyCasey Abrams attends Fox’s “American Idol” season 13 finale in 2014

Abrams received an outpouring of love on his post about his recent surgery, including from friends in the industry.

Longtime “Idol” backup singer Brandon Winz wrote, “Casey!! ❤️❤️ Sending you love, brother!”

“Idol” season 6 runner-up Blake Lewis commented, “Much love bruv!”

Famed percussionist Sheila E. wrote, “We LOVE UUUUUUU casey praying for u ❤️‍🩹💜🙏🏽🥰”

Longtime musician friend Lisa Loeb wrote, “Joining all the well wishers. Sending smooth jazz recovery thoughts.❤️”

And TV personality Loni Love wrote, “You got this Casey… praying and donating my dear!!!🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾❤️”

Abrams also received notes of encouragement from fellow patients who have dealt with the same condition and surgeries.

One wrote, “Sending you love and prayers. Been there and done that. It’s worth it! You’ll come out of this better than ever!❤️”

Another shared, “I did the same surgery 13 years ago and couldn’t be happier! You’ve got this!! 💕”

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help with Abrams’ medical bills and since he’s rarely been able to work as a musician for nearly a year.