Sam Ballard, the rugby player who, on a dare from his mates, ate a slug and became paralyzed afterwards, has died at the age of 28.
Ballard died last Friday shortly after telling his mother, “I love you”.
Lisa Wilkinson, a presenter on Australian TV show The Sunday Project, broke the news, saying:
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. 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 mum: ‘I love you’.
Ballard consumed the poisonous mollusc at a friend’s party in 2010 in Sydney after accepting a dare.
His friend Jimmy Galvin explained later:
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 up, ‘Should I eat it?’ Off Sam went. Bang. That’s how it happened.
Sam was rushed to hospital where doctors told him he had been infected with rat lungworm. The parasite caused an infection on the brain. He spent 420 days in a coma after developing eosinophilic meningo-encephalitis.
When Sam woke up he found he had become a quadriplegic.
Sam’s mother, Kate, always remained hopeful that her son would walk and talk again. Sadly, her hopes were never fulfilled.