Sam Ballard: Sydney man who swallowed slug passes away

Sam Ballard was left paralysed after contracting eosinophilic meningoencephalitis – a strand of meningitis. Image Facebook  Sam BallardMore

Within days of eating the slug, Ballard noticed pain in his legs.

'I hope the friends that were with him when he swallowed the slug, especially the one who dared him, ' one tribute read.

A friend of Mr Ballard, who was also present in the room during his final moments, confirmed the young man told his mother several times he loved her before he died.

Sam's mum Katie had previously told Australian media about the incredible physical, emotional, and financial toll Sam's illness had taken on the family.

Michael Sheasby said: "When I walked in, he was very, very gaunt, and there were cables everywhere". Instead, he got worse, lapsing into a coma for 420 days and emerging with brain damage severe paralysis. "Just because you were being mates and doing things together - it's not your fault".

Mr Ballard was with mates at a friend's 19th birthday party when his life was irreversibly changed.

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After spending three years in hospital, Mr Ballard was released in a motorized wheelchair but has required around the clock care.

In 2016, Katie Ballard applied to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) when Sam became eligible for a £300,000 package.

The odd and sad case occurred because, along with the slug, Ballard had swallowed a parasite called Angiostrongylus cantonensis, commonly known as rat lungworm, which the slug likely picked up from rat droppings, according to the U.K.'s EveningStandard.

Last September, without warning, the NDIS texted Ms Ballard to say a review of his plan had slashed his allocation to around £75,000. Most people don't show any symptoms but in rare cases - such as with Sam - it can affect the brain. The parasite can cause eosinophilic meningitis.

The massive funding cut was without explanation and around-the-clock care means the Ballard family are heavily in debt and now owe a nursing service £25,000. "Sam passed away on Friday morning at Hornsby Hospital, not far from where he grew up, surrounded by 20 of those he most loved in the world", she wrote. In it, she described him as "remarkable".

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