An Australian man who became paralyzed after eating a slug on a dare eight years ago has died at the age of 28.
Sam Ballard, who was a rugby player before the incident, reportedly died in a Sydney hospital on Friday surrounded by family and friends, according to the Independent.
In 2010, Ballard, who was 19 at the time, consumed a slug on the drunken urging of friends, according to Yahoo. He seemed OK until he complained of a sharp pain in his legs a few days later.
Tests showed that Ballard’s brain had been infected with rat lungworm, a parasite sometimes found in slugs. He contracted eosinophilic meningoencephalitis ― a form of meningitis ― and fell into a coma that lasted 420 days.
He spent the next three years in a hospital. Ballard was left paralyzed and had to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life, often suffering seizures.
His story was big news in Australia, especially last year when his disability insurance was slashed by more than half. As a result of media coverage, the decision was later reversed, according to the Grafton Daily Examiner.
Ballard’s death was announced on the Australian news show “The Sunday Project” by broadcaster Lisa Wilkinson. She reported that his last words were “I love you,” said to his mom.
Wilkinson’s tribute to Ballard can be seen below: