Published: Tue, November 06, 2018
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Australian Man Who Became Paralyzed After Eating Slug 8 Years Ago Dies

Australian Man Who Became Paralyzed After Eating Slug 8 Years Ago Dies

Sam became gravely ill in the days after swallowing the slug.

At Hornsby Hospital, not far from where Sam grew up, friends and family gathered.

An obituary in Tuesday morning's Sydney Morning Herald read that his "army of friends" were there at the end.

He understood what was going on around him, his mother said, and his friends still visited. "His last words to his mum: "I love you".

As friends make preparations for his funeral, to be held this Thursday, tributes are beginning to flow.

In extremely rare cases - like Sam's - it can cause an infection of the brain. In it, she described him as "remarkable".

But tragically, she later said his life would forever be scarred by the horror.

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Katie Ballard also told Ten Daily "the room was so full of love".

Most people recover from the affliction, but Ballard did not.

"I have rarely met a finer group of young men", Wilkinson wrote.

One of Sam's mates Jimmy Galvin spoke to Australian media about the night of the incident.

"He was the life of the party during the North Sydney golden era", one friend wrote.

Mr Galvin told Wilkinson earlier this year how the dare came about.

Speaking to The Project, he said: "We were sitting, having a bit of a red wine appreciation night, trying to act as grown-ups and a slug came crawling across".

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"The conversation came up, you know - 'Should I eat it?' And off Sam went".

Sam, who was once a promising rugby player, spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, continuing to suffer seizures and the split-second "prank" left him quadriplegic. "Bang. That's how it happened".

Ballard didn't know the slug was infected with rat lungworm, which is a parasite that can live in rats, slugs, and snails.

Unfortunately, doctors soon discovered that he was infected with rat lungworm, a parasite usually found in rodents. He contracted eosinophilic meningoencephalitis ― a form of meningitis ― and fell into a coma that lasted 420 days.

His mother, Katie Ballard, noted that while he was initially unable to move, he later regained some movement.

He couldn't feed himself and needed help using the bathroom.

He later added: "We like to sit down and watch the footy and watch the rugby".

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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.

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