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Community Rallying to Aid Spearfish Woman Who Needs New Lungs

Emily Progin, PR and Communications Coordinator / 800.642.8399


Susan Higbee Wants to Live Free of Restrictions and Visit Her Hometown Again

SPEARFISH, S.D.—At just 52 years old, Spearfish native Susan Higbee is in the fight of her life and awaiting a double lung transplant. Her loved ones are partnering with the national nonprofit Help Hope Live to fundraise for the extensive out-of-pocket costs associated with her gift of new life.

“I miss Spearfish,” she said. “I was born and raised there. I love the people and the friendliness you feel there. The scenery is so beautiful. I have so many memories of growing up in Spearfish, like Spearfish Canyon, Spearfish Creek, the Festival in the Park and working at the Lown House, Rimrock Lodge, and BH Special Services.”

As she awaits a life-changing lung transplant, Susan is living with constant shortness of breath that is so extreme it wakes her up from sleep. She is reliant on supplement oxygen 24/7. She relocated from Spearfish to Oregon in 2011 – but for the past eleven years, her hometown has never left her mind or heart.

Parents Dr. Walter and Marion Higbee first settled in Spearfish back in 1964. Dr. Higbee worked at Black Hills State University in the special education program, and their family fostered local children. Susan and all her siblings graduated from Spearfish High School. She went on to attend college at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and then Black Hills State University. The Higbee family are members of United Methodist Church, and both Susan and her mother were members of PEO (Chapter N) in Spearfish.

Susan left Spearfish in 2011, and as her health declined, she moved a second time in 2018 to a Portland care home for intensive medical support and caregiving. She now travels regularly from Portland to Seattle, about 3.5 hours each way, as she prepares for the transplant journey.

The gift of life will change everything for Susan, giving her more freedom and mobility, the opportunity to live independently again outside of a facility, and a chance to work, volunteer, travel, prepare her own meals, and have pets. One of her biggest goals post-transplant: “I would love to travel back to Spearfish to visit friends again.”

However, while new lungs will be life-saving for Susan, the out-of-pocket financial burden is extreme. That’s why the Spearfish community is rising up to provide hope at a time of overwhelming need. They’ve partnered with the national nonprofit Help Hope Live to start a fundraising campaign. Donations can be made at:

The community has already helped Susan reach $7,000 raised towards her $50,000 goal.

Unlike a GoFundMe, with Help Hope Live, donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law, and all funds raised will be managed by the nonprofit to cover verified medical and related expenses. Help Hope Live verifies medical and financial need for every patient.

Some of the key expenses that fundraising will help Susan cover include housing pre- and post-transplant in Seattle, which will be necessary for a minimum of three months, transportation expenses, and a lifetime of anti-rejection medications.

Help Hope Live is a national nonprofit that specializes in engaging communities in secure, tax-deductible fundraising campaigns for people who need a transplant or are affected by a catastrophic injury or illness. Since 1983, campaigns organized by Help Hope Live have raised over $165 million to pay patient expenses. ###

Written by Emily Progin