He ate a slug on a dare, became paralyzed and died

Sam Ballard was the ‘life of the party’ according to friends

"The conversation came up, 'Should I eat it?'".

When Sam Ballard's friends dared him to eat a slug that was crawling across the patio in 2010, the 19-year-old accepted the challenge without a second thought.

Back in 2010, a young Australian man was having a few drinks with friends in a backyard and chose to eat a garden slug on a dare, only for the creature to end up paralyzing and killing him eight years later.

But doctors found he had actually contracted rat lungworm, a disease found in rodents that can also infect snails and slugs through the larvae in their feces.

After being diagnosed with eosinophilic meningoencephalitis, a form of meningitis that results from consuming a contaminated snail, Sam went into a coma for 420 days. The news was reported by Lisa Wilkinson, an anchor for The Sunday Project.

Sam's mother, Katie Ballard, has said that she does not her son's friends for what happened, and said they were just "being mates".

"He contracted rat lung disease with devastating effects", Lisa told the show.

"He had an army of friends and family who loved and cared for him for which he was truly grateful", the obituary read.

Ballard passed away at a Sydney hospital and was with 20 of his family and closest friends, according to TV host Lisa Wilkinson yesterday, November 5.

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"One of his friends there in the room continued, "He had his voice and he said 'I love you" several times to Katie'". And he just started bawling his eyes out. He died at the age of 28 in Sydney.

Here's what you need to know.

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. "It was a big shock".

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

"It made his day", his mates said.

For eight years his friends and family - led by his mother Katie - stood by him and helped him. Though she had hoped that her son might learn to walk again, Ballard was never able to recover from the impact of eating a slug, before his death.

"Physios had Sam standing in the frame at the gym", she wrote.

Later, she wrote that "he is still the same cheeky Sam, and laughs a lot" but admitted "it's devastated, changed his life forever, changed my life forever". Media coverage and the family's fight for additional funding and care saw the decision reversed.

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