Australian born Sam Ballard passed away this past Friday aged 28 after rat lungworm left him paralysed. The promising rugby player was infected with the parasite in 2010 when he was dared to eat a slug at a friends garden party. Ballard spent the last moments of his life as Sydney's Hornsby Hospital; The Daily Mail wrote, "Mr Ballard passed away in the morning 'surrounded by 20 of those he most loved in the world,' his mother, Katie Ballard, said."

His funeral is set to take place this Thursday. Members of the public are also invited to the funeral at Palm Chapel at Macquarie Park Crematorium, and according to The Daily Mail "encouraged to wear a 'splash of red or blue'." Even after his diagnosis and medical conditions, Ballard's friend remained close and supportive of him.

Rat Lungworm

Ballard was said to be a promising rugby player, but a dare to eat a slug at a friends party when he was 19, infected him with the rare parasite. According to the friends who dared Ballard, they saw a slug on the table, and Ballard asked if he should eat it, the next day after feeling dizzy and vomiting, teenager's Mother took him to the ER.

The Independent wrote, "The teenager then contracted eosinophilic meningoencephalitis, a form of meningitis, and lapsed into a coma for 420 days," although rat lungworm in commonly found in rats, it can also be found in slugs and snails. Unfortunately, the slug that Ballard fateful ate contained the parasite that left him paraplegic.

When he woke from his coma, Ballard was also diagnosed with a brain injury and spent the next eight years of his life needing around the clock care.

Ballard also received disability benefits to care for him, but The Independent wrote how "Ms Ballard spent the final years of his life battling with the Australian authorities," when cuts were made to his financial aid.

Dared to death

Sam Ballard's Mother, Katie Ballard once said that what happened to her son "completely changed his life," The Daily Mail wrote.

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.

Katie Ballard was not only supportive of her son throughout the final years of his life, but also of his friends Jimmy Galvin and Michael Sheasby who had been with Ballard when he had made the fateful decision to eat a slug.

The Independent wrote, that Katie Ballard "said she did not blame the friends who dared her son at the 2010 party."

Awareness of this tragic incident hopes to send a message to other young men and women, that minor actions can have major consequences. Many people on social media have sent and an outpouring of love to Ballard and his family, but some have not been so forgiving and believe that Ballard's friends should have stepped in.