Sam Ballard, a rugby player from Sydney, was only 19 years old when his friends dared him to eat a garden slug. The gutsy lad did as he was told, but his actions had a devastating and an irreversible consequence. At 28, nearly ten years later, Sam breathed his last due to complications arising from eating the slug. His last words, “I love you,” were to his mom.
Sam took up the challenge to eat a slug, which was poisonous unbeknownst to him, on a dare from friends at a 2010 party. The symptoms started developing slowly. In the days that followed, he began experiencing pain in his legs. His mother reassured him that nothing was wrong. Mother and Son Eat Raw Centipedes and Develop Deadly Meningitis.
As his health deteriorated, the doctors found out that the slug probably harboured a parasite called lungworm, which nests itself in the heart of the host, causing severe health problems. Sam slipped into a coma where he remained for a total of 420 days, but life wasn’t the same after he was revived. Sam had developed quadriplegia, incapable of moving or speaking. Toddler from Big Island Contracts Rat Lungworm Disease, Hawaii’s 5th Case in This Year.
There was a brief moment of hope for Sam when he woke out of the coma. Katie Ballard, Sam’s mom, thought her son would eventually regain his motor functions. But she revealed to Australian media how difficult it has been for Sam, coping with the consequences of a mindless action. He couldn’t eat or step into the bathroom on his own.
His close friends, many of whom were present at the party on a fateful night in 2010, stuck around for him. Jimmy Galvin, one of his best friends, regrets not stopping Sam from eating the slug at the party. Man Dies After He Inhales Deadly Brain-Eating Amoeba at a Water Park.
After struggling for almost a decade, Sam passed away last week after falling ill. His last words were his declaration of love for his mother, who has been caring for him for the past eight years.
What’s a Lungworm?
The lungworm is a parasitic nematode worm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) that generally infects vertebrates like foxes, rats and dogs. Sometimes, molluscs like slugs also carry it when they eat faeces of the infected animals. The worm finds its way into the host’s body when it ingests it. Once inside, the lungworm finds its way into the heart and causes problems of the heart and lungs. It can also cause haemorrhages inside vital organs, and can be fatal in many cases.