Sometimes it’s terrifying what kind of stupid things we do on a dare, what kind of dumb things we do when we’re young that can have a lifetime of consequences. And in this tragic case, the lifetime is shorter than anyone would like it to be. Sam Ballard, a resident of Sydney, Australia, ate a slug on a dare during a friend’s birthday party, not knowing that the slug contained rat lungworm when he ingested it.
Sam, who was a rugby player at the time of the incident, went into a coma for 420 days. When he awoke from the coma, Ballard lived as a paraplegic and was unable to properly ingest food. He died today following complications from the illness eight years later.
According to Sky News, which initially reported the story: Rat lungworm is a parasite found in rodents which passes its larvae into the animals’ faeces. Snails and slugs can then become infected after ingesting it..
Ballard’s friend from the day, Jimmy, told Australian TV show the project what went down on the day he ate the slug:
“We were sitting, having a bit of a red wine appreciation night, trying to act as grown-ups and a slug came crawling across. Off Sam went. Bang. That’s how it happened.”
Jimmy added that he apologized to Ballard for not stopping him and that Ballard broke into tears immediately after ingesting the slug. Michael Sheasby explains to Sky News also talks about witnessing Ballard shortly when his stay in the hospital began, saying:
“When I walked in, he was very very gaunt, and there were cables everywhere – it was a big shock.”
The story illustrates the terrible price that could be paid for youthful indiscretions, but it’s also a stupid accident and a stupid tragedy. Nothing like this should happen and our thoughts are with the grieving family.
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