The teenager who was left disabled after swallowing a slug has been getting by with support from his family and friends.
Sam Ballard was 19 when he swallowed a slug in a backyard in 2010 after being dared to do so by some friends.
“We were sitting over here, having a bit of a red wine appreciation night, trying to act as grownups, and a slug came crawling across here,” recounted friend Jimmy Galvin of the fateful night to Sunday Project.
“The conversation came up, ‘Should I eat it?’ Off Sam went. Bang. That’s how it happened.”
Eating a slug changed this boy's life forever https://t.co/lgJeh5H3dp
— Metro (@MetroUK) April 2, 2018
Ballard quickly fell ill and was rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with rat lungworm, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.
Rat lungworm, or angiostrongyliasis, is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, according to the Hawaii Department of Health.
“It is caused by a parasitic nematode (roundworm parasite) called Angiostrongylus cantonensis. The adult form of A. cantonensis is only found in rodents. However, infected rodents can pass larvae of the worm in their feces. Snails, slugs, and certain other animals (including freshwater shrimp, land crabs, and frogs) can become infected by ingesting this larvae; these are considered intermediate hosts,” the department stated.
“Humans can become infected with A. cantonensis if they eat (intentionally or otherwise) a raw or undercooked infected intermediate host, thereby ingesting the parasite.”
Most people who develop the lungworm show no symptoms, but in Ballard, it infected his brain. He eventually lapsed into a coma for 420 days and became a quadriplegic.
Teen left severely disabled after swallowing slug looks to family, friends for support https://t.co/BEXu92OhKi
— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 2, 2018
Before the shocking incident, Ballard was an athletic teen who loved to play rugby.
He’s now unable to move his legs but just lately he’s been able to move his arms and grip things.
However, now 28, Ballard often suffers seizures and can’t control his body temperature, reported the Daily Telegraph. All food must be fed to him through a tube.
“It’s devastated, changed his life forever, changed my life forever,” mother Katie Ballard said. “It’s huge. The impact is huge.”
Friends have stuck by him, but said the incident serves as a warning to people who like to live life on the edge.
“Just take care of your mates,” Galvin said. “Before you jump off a roof into a pool or daring your mate to eat something stupid. It can have the worse consequences not only on your mate and the rest of your friends, the rest of your life, just take care of each other.”