At 19 years old, a rugby player in Australia, became a paraplegic after swallowing a garden slug as a dare at a birthday party.
Sam Ballard of Sydney, who is now 28, became seriously ill after he ate the creature whole.
After initial tests, doctors discovered that Ballard had been infected with rat lungworm, which resulted in an infection in his brain. Lungworms are typically found in rodents, but slugs can become infected if they ingest the feces of rats that have eaten the worm.
Most people develop no symptoms at all, but Ballard fell into a coma for 420 days after contracting eosinophilic meningoencephalitis — a strand of meningitis.
The talented rugby player spent three years in the hospital and now uses a wheelchair. He cannot control his body temperature, and suffers from continued seizures.
But while his mother, Katie, continues to care for him, she faced a new challenge last year when she was told that a huge disability allowance package the family was expecting to receive for Sam would be slashed.
In 2016, she applied to Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) when Sam became eligible for benefits of roughly $380,000.
Last September, the NDIS texted Ms. Ballard to confirm that a review of his plan had slashed that allocation to $100,000.
Now, the massive funding cut means that the Ballard family is facing huge debts, and currently owes almost $32,000 to a nursing service.
“It’s devastating, changed his life forever, changed my life forever. The impact is huge,” she said of her son’s battle for survival.
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