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Benefit event set for Harlan Muhlenbeck

A special benefit event for Harlan Muhlenbeck has been set for Thursday, Sept. 27, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Speedway Event Center, 680 W. Main Ave., West Fargo.

Muhlenbeck has been seriously ill with TENS (Toxic Epidermal Necrosis Syndrome), a disease that causes the equivalent of second degree burns on the inside and outside of the body. The benefit is being held to help with medical bills incurred while he was hospitalized, and with other ongoing medical expenses.

The evening will feature a Spaghetti Supper and Silent Auction and music by Carmen the Cactus and Blue 42, former members of Ded Walleye and 24 Seven.

Muhlenbeck first began feeling sick on April 25, 2007. Two days later, he went to the doctor with a fever and blisters on his hands, feet, and in his mouth. He was diagnosed with 'Foot and Mouth' disease and sent home 'highly contagious.' The fever continued, and more blisters appeared all over his body. On April 29, he went to the Emergency Room at Innovis Hospital where he was admitted for dehydration, unable to swallow because of the sores in his mouth.

During the night he was transferred from a medical floor to the Critical Care Unit, where they diagnosed him with TENS or SJS (Steven-Johnson Syndrome), both life-threatening diseases, caused by an allergic reaction to prescription medication. In Harlan's case, it was the medication, Allopurinol, that he had been taking to treat gout. The next day he was transferred to Regions Burn Center in St. Paul.

By this time, he looked like he had been burned from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. The palms of his hands and the soles of his feet had huge blisters. The skin on his back, chest, face, and arms had begun to peel off. They wrapped him in gauze to protect the blisters from tearing open. He was on strong medication for pain. They shaved his head when he got to St. Paul, as his head was blistered under his hair.

The following evening, he was placed on a respirator to assist him with breathing, which he was on for the next 17 days. He ran a 105-degree fever for several days and was placed in a drug-induced coma. He was taken to surgery to remove the peeling skin on his body and to remove the huge blisters on the palms of his hands and soles of his feet. He is now home, but continues to have problems with his vision, swallowing, weakness and tenderness in his hands and feet.

Muhlenbeck hopes one day to be back to normal and able to work at his job as a welder. This benefit will assist with medical bills, which were nearly $400,000, plus help compensate Harlan and his wife, Vivian, for the time lost from work. The couple has two children, Josh and Ashley.

A free-will offering will be taken at the benefit and Silent Auction items will also be a part of the fund-raising fun. Those unable to attend, who would still like to make a donation, can do so by mail c/o Harlan Muhlenbeck, American Federal Bank, PO Box 906, Fergus Falls, Minn. 56537 (or drop off at any American Federal Bank location).