Former childhood heart patient inspired by his doctors to become surgeon

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — A Lee’s Summit man is going from patient to surgeon. He had heart problems as a kid and was so inspired by his doctors he has decided he is going to become one himself.

From the outside looking in, Kyle Riggs looks like your typical 25-year-old but the inside tells a different story.

“Routine checkups; going to cardiologists every year,” he said about his childhood.

Riggs was born with a complex heart defect.

He’s undergone two open heart surgeries to correct the defect and every time he looks in the mirror he sees a scar that takes him back to that hospital bed. Even though it was a scary time, he has good memories inside Children’s Mercy.

“Going in the starlet room when I was recovering, it’s just this cool room you can change the stars and the light. It just made me happy,” said Riggs.

Riggs wanted to find a way to make kids facing the same battles happy too.

“When I met my surgeons later in life it inspired me and made me want to follow in their footsteps,” he said.

Now, he too has decided to become a surgeon.

With the help of a scholarship called the Greater Lee’s Summit Healthcare Foundation, Riggs is almost done with medical school. Just like those heart surgeons he remembers, he wants to give kids their lives back.

“You’re able to see these little kids walk out of the hospital a few days later, being able to live a full life,” he said.

Riggs is in his last semester of medical school at Mizzou. He’ll find out where he will go for his residency on March 20.

For more on Riggs’ scholarship head to:

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