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>Sam Ballard swallowed the slug on a dare.

>Ballard, a young rugby player from Sydney, was a “larrikin” — a “rough-and-tumble” free-spirit, his mother said. So when the creature crawled across a table at a party in 2010 and his buddies dared him to eat it, her son accepted the challenge, she said.

>“Twenty-year-old boys, red wine, alcohol, sitting at some mate’s table — a slug goes onto the table, someone banters about a dare,” Katie Ballard told 7 News Sydney in an interview the following year.

>“Boys will be boys,” she told the station.

>The mate’s dare may have been innocent enough.

>But after swallowing the slug, Ballard contracted a rat lungworm — a parasitic worm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis) that lives in rodents and can be passed onto snails and slugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those gastropods can then transmit the worm to humans.

>In an unusual and tragic turn, the parasite infested Ballard’s brain — putting him into a coma for 420 days and leaving him paralyzed, according to

>“It’s devastated, changed his life forever, changed my life forever,” his mother told 7 News Sydney in 2011. “It’s huge. The impact is huge.”

>Ballard, whose mother said he once seemed “invincible,” is now a 28-year-old quadriplegic. He suffers from seizures, eats and breathes through tubes, and requires constant care, which the family is struggling to pay for, according to the Daily Telegraph.

>The Australian newspaper reported that the family applied for a major disability package, worth about $383,000, under Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme in 2016.

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