Australian Man Age 28 Who Was Left Paralysed After Eating A Slug Dies
A man who was left paralysed after eating a slug as a dare at a birthday party has died at the age of 28.
Sam Ballard, from Sydney, Australia, was 19 in 2010 when he ate the creature which was infected with rat lungworm.
Mr Ballard, who was a keen rugby player, fell into a coma for 420 days after contracting a strand of meningitis called eosinophilic meningoencephalitis.
Most people are said to recover from the illness, but he suffered a severe infection in his brain.
Mr Ballard, who used a wheelchair, was left as a paraplegic meaning he was paralysed from the waist down.
He died aged 28 on Friday after years of medical complications.
Rat lungworm is a parasite found in rodents which passes its larvae into the animals' faeces.
Snails and slugs can then become infected after ingesting it.
Earlier this year, Mr Ballard's friend Jimmy recalled the night of the party.
He told the Australian current affairs show The Project: "We were sitting, having a bit of a red wine appreciation night, trying to act as grown-ups and a slug came crawling across.
"The conversation came, 'should I eat it?'
"Off Sam went. Bang. That's how it happened."
Mr Galvin said he apologised to his friend for not stopping him from eating the slug.
He added that when he did Mr Ballard "started bawling his eyes out".
Another friend Michael Sheasby spoke of the first time he walked into the hospital room where Mr Ballard was being treated.
He said: "When I walked in, he was very very gaunt, and there were cables everywhere - it was a big shock."
Lisa Wilkinson, who hosts a Sunday edition of The Project, said Mr Ballard was "surrounded by his family and loyal, loving mates" before his death.
She added that his last words to his mum were "I love you".
His mother Katie Ballard told the Daily Telegraph in Australia how tough life had been for her son after the dare.
She said he was unable to eat for himself and needed help going to the bathroom.
Mrs Ballard has also said she doesn't blame the boys for their dare or her son for going through with it, adding they were just "being mates" on the night it happened.
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