Sam Ballard dies eight years after swallowing a slug

Sam Ballard was only 19 when a dare changed his life forever

Sam Ballard was only 19 when a dare changed his life forever

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

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

One of Sam's friends, Jimmy Galvin, who was present at the party, described the event as a "red wine appreciation night".

"The conversation came up: 'Should I eat it?' Off Sam went". Bang. That's how it happened'.

Mr Ballard didn't get sick immediately, but complained of serious pain in his legs in the days after. Fearing it could have been Multiple Sclerosis (MS) like what his father had, Sam's mother took him to the doctor.

After initial tests, doctors discovered that he had been infected with rat lungworm, which resulted in an infection in his brain.

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.

While many people recover from the infection, Sam suffered brain damage and never recovered.

Sam spent three years in hospital after falling ill, but was later released in a motorised wheelchair. He was left quadriplegic and suffered seizures.

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He said: 'When I walked in, he was very very gaunt, and there were cables everywhere - it was a big shock'.

Now, eight years on, Sam passed away at the age of 28 surrounded by his friends and family last week.

Australian newsreader Lisa Wilkinson, working for Network 10, broke the news on Sunday, saying: "We have some sad news for you now".

Sam Ballard, from Sydney, was 19 when contracted a rare disease after swallowing the animal, which he didn't know had been infected with rat lungworm.

Other close friends of Sam's admitted the "shock" they felt when visiting him in hospital.

Sam Ballard has passed away eight years after eating a slug that left him paralysed.

She added: "It's devastated, changed his life forever, changed my life forever".

However, in September 2017, she was told this was being cut to AUD $135,000 - a move Katie says has left her family heavily in debt.

Katie applied to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 2016 and Sam was granted a AUD $492,000 package.

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