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Ishpeming man fights Guillain-Barre Syndrome

November 18, 2012
By ADELLE WHITEFOOT - Journal Ishpeming Bureau ( , The Mining Journal

ISHPEMING - A benefit is being held to raise money for an Ishpeming native who needs help with medical costs.

Branden Billings, 28, was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome last May becoming completely paralyzed. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare disorder that causes the victim's immune system to attack their peripheral nervous system, causing paralysis. The PNS connects the brain and spinal cord with the rest of the the body. The cause of the syndrome in unknown.

The onset of the disease was so sudden for Billings that he wasn't able to start his first day of work as a life insurance representative in the Upper Peninsula. The day after he finished his training, numbness started and he was hospitalized almost immediately.

Article Photos

Branden Billings, middle, is pictured here with his parents Donna and Kurt Billings. The Ishpeming man is suffering from Guillain-Barre Syndrome and is recovering from complete paralysis. (Billings family photo)

After being admitted to Marquette General Hospital for a short time, Billings was moved to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Center in Grand Rapids in June where he relearned how to walk, eat, drink, get dressed and perform many other everyday tasks. He returned home in August.

While state aid helped to cover most of the medical expenses, Billings is left with many bills he cannot afford - exceeding $20,000. His condition causes him to fatigue easily making it difficult to return to work.

As an effort to help, friends and family have organized a benefit from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 24 at Flannigan's in Marquette. People can enter a chili cook-off or a karaoke contest for $10 each.

Fact Box

If you go:

What: Benefit for Branden Billings

When: 1-6 p.m. Nov. 24

Where:Flannigan's in Marquette

For those who cannot attend the event and wish to make a donation can do so by sending a check to Karly Keller at 827 E. Michigan St. Ishpeming, MI 49849, attention Branden Billings Medical Fund or contact Keller at 906-361-5275.

Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is



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