Sydney Man Who Became Ill After Eating A Slug Passes Away

Sam Ballard was a strapping rugby player before the devastating effects of the infection from a garden slug

"And then the conversation came up, 'Should I eat it?' And then off Sam went and bang, that's how it happened".

The turning point in Ballard's life came when a friend noticed a slug crawling across the garden, and dared him to eat it. Hanging out with friends one night and drinking red wine, Ballard was dared to eat a slug that was slithering across a patio.

Sam Ballard, the Sydney man who fell into a coma and became paralysed after eating a slug, has tragically died eight years on.

Doctors later diagnosed him with rat lungworm, which usually affects only rodents.

The brain infection left Ballard in a coma for 420 days and paralysed him from the waist down.

Lisa Wilkinson, the TV host who's interviewed the Ballards, says his final words to his mom were: "I love you".

Almost nine years after chowing down on the slug, Ballard, 29, died in Sydney's Hornsby Hospital, according to reports out of Australia, surrounded by friends and his mother, Katie Ballard.

On Friday, Ballard died at age 28 after contracting rat lungworm disease from the slug.

In their obituary, Ballard's family described him as "a true battler" whose hard final years had been brightened by "an army of friends and family".

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"On Friday, Sam passed away, surrounded by his family and loyal, loving mates."

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He couldn't feed himself and needed help using the bathroom. However, he soon began to regain a little bit of movement in his limbs. Health officials warn people not to eat raw snails or slugs and to thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables and inspect them for the slimy creatures. And he just started bawling his eyes out.

Here's what you need to know.

Another close friend of Sam's, Michael Sheasby, admitted the "shock" they felt when visiting him in hospital.

Although he was unable to speak, "when his friends visited, they said his face lit up and he was very much "still there", News.com.au reports.

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

In a Facebook post from 2011, Ms Ballard said she hoped her son would walk again.

But she revealed to Australian media how hard it has been for Sam, coping with the consequences of a mindless action.

"Told him it was the stress of the last 16 months that had affected my eyesight".

"It devastated and changed his life forever, changed my life forever". It's huge. The impact is huge, ' she said.

His mother Katie took on round-the-clock care for him and struggled with his medical needs after the Australian government cut disability funding.

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