Man dies eight years after eating slug on a dare

2018-11-05 13:46
Patient in hospital. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

Patient in hospital. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

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It was a split-second decision that would change his life forever – and eventually cause his death.

One evening in 2010, Sam Ballard, then 19, was socialising with friends in the backyard of his home in the North Shore area of Sydney, Australia, drinking red wine, having a laugh and “trying to act like grownups”.

Then a slug crawled across the concrete patio and Sam’s friends dared him to eat it.

“We were sitting over here having a bit of a red wine appreciation night, trying to act as grownups and a slug came crawling across here,” Jimmy Galvin, one of Sam’s best friends, recalls.

“The conversation came up, you know – ‘Should I eat it?’ And off Sam went. Bang. That’s how it happened.”

According to Express, a few days later the teenager started complaining of terrible pain in his legs.

He initially feared he might’ve developed multiple sclerosis, which his father suffered from, but then doctors discovered he’d been infected with rat lungworm.

The worm is usually found in rodents but snails and slugs can also become infected when they eat rat faeces, Australian news site News.com.au reports.

Sam contracted eosinophilic meningo-encephalitis, an illness many people recover from – but unfortunately Sam didn’t.

The teen, once a promising rugby player, fell into a coma. When he woke up 420 days later he’d acquired a brain injury.

Sam spent the rest of his life confined to a wheelchair, The Metro reports. He was left quadriplegic and suffered seizures.

Michael Sheasby, a friend of Sam, says seeing him in hospital for the first time after the accident was a “big shock”.

“When I walked in he was very, very gaunt, and there were cables everywhere – it was a big shock.”

Last week, eight years after he fell ill, Sam died. The news was reported by Lisa Wilkinson, an anchor for The Sunday Project.

“We have some sad news for you now. Earlier this year we brought you the story of Sam Ballard who, on a dare from his mates, ate a slug,” Lisa began. “He contracted rat lung disease with devastating effects.

“His friends have stuck by him ever since. On Friday, Sam passed away, surrounded by his family and loyal, loving mates.

“His last words to his mom: ‘I love you.’ ”

Sam’s mother, Katie Ballard has previously spoken out about the incident, saying she didn’t blame the boys for their playful dare or her son taking them up on it, and that they were just “being mates”.

However, she added, Sam’s illness hit the family hard.

“It devastated and changed his life forever, changed my life forever. The impact is huge.”

SOURCES: EXPRESS.CO.UK, METRO.CO.UK, NEWS.COM.AU

Read more on:    australia
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