An Australian man has died eight years after he was left paralysed by eating a garden slug for a dare.
Sam Ballard, 28, a promising rugby player from Sydney, ate the slug while drinking wine with his friends in 2010.
Then aged 19, he didn’t immediately fall ill but complained of a sharp pain in his legs a few days later.
After initial tests, doctors discovered that he had been infected with rat lungworm, which resulted in an infection in his brain.
He subsequently fell into a coma for 420 days after contracting eosinophilic meningoencephalitis – a strand of meningitis.
Mr Ballard spent three years in hospital and was left paralysed and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, suffering seizures.
The Sunday Project’s Lisa Wilkinson, who earlier this year did a segment on Sam’s battle, confirmed the 28-year-old’s passing in a brief segment.
“His friends have stuck by him ever since. On Friday, Sam passed away, surrounded by his family and loyal, loving mates,” Ms Wilkinson said.
“His last words to his mum: ‘I love you’.”
Before the accident, Mr Ballard’s mother Katie described how she saw her son as ‘invincible’, writing in a 2011 Facebook post that she hoped he would walk again.
“Sam is doing really well. He is still the same cheeky Sam, and laughs a lot,” she wrote.