Riggs to speak for Red Cross

By Keith Strange Staff Reporter

November 3, 2013

The Cana youth who just a few short months ago was awaiting a heart transplant will become something of a celebrity next month.

Samantha Riggs, 10, received a heart transplant in April, and after months awaiting the heart, Riggs will be featured in hundreds of television commercials, her mother said Friday.

It all began last December.

“It was very sudden,” mother Randi Riggs, a nurse, said. “She became short of breath, and I realized her heart was beating really fast so I took her to the emergency room.”

There doctors discovered that Riggs’ heart was enlarged.

“They think a virus attacked her heart, so they sent her to Brenner’s Children’s Hospital, and from there she was sent to Duke University Children’s Hospital Cardiac Intensive Care Unit,” her mother said.

“Within a week of knowing she was sick, she had a pump inserted into her heart,” she added.

With the pump in her heart and at her young age, she couldn’t leave the hospital, but there was a silver lining.

“As a child with a pump in the hospital, you’re priority one on the transplant list, so she was in the ICU the whole time.”

On April 17, the Cana girl received a donor heart.

“We were at Duke for almost five months, until she was discharged on May 3,” her mother said.

Her story touched hearts.

“During the five months at Duke, she had to receive a lot of blood and blood products, so there was a blood drive in Winston-Salem earlier this year where they used her and told her story,” said the elder Riggs. “And now she will be featured on television commercials filmed by WXII to advertise for the Winter Days of Giving Red Cross blood drive in December.”

More than 100 commercials will air in the weeks leading up to the blood drive, featuring Riggs’ story and ending with her saying, “give blood this holiday season.”

Her mother said the drive will be held from Dec. 18 through Jan. 3, at the Winston-Salem and Greensboro blood centers.

She noted the younger Riggs is the perfect spokesman.

“She is the perfect person to advertise for a blood drive, because she wouldn’t have been able to make it to the transplant stage without more than 40 different blood products,” her mother added. “This shows that blood truly is a gift of life.”

Today, things are much smoother in the Riggs household.

“She’s doing well,” her mother said. “She just had her six-month tests a couple of weeks ago and everything seems to be great. While we’re still having to adjust her medications, she’s had no major complications.”

And once again, the zest for life is back in the heart of a 10-year-old.

“She started school in August on time, and once again is making straight A’s,” her mother said proudly. “She can run and jump, and we think we have our daughter back.

“There are still a lot of medical things and medications, but you wouldn’t know what she’s been through if you just saw her. She’s a normal kid and an amazing little girl.”

Reach Keith Strange at or 719-1929.