The former rugby player had since had limited movement in his limbs, needed help going to the bathroom and eating, and had trouble communicating, though, based on his reactions to things, "you [knew he was] there", one of his friends tells the Herald. His mother, Katie Ballard, who cared for him full-time, was by his side. Sam Ballard was 19 years old when he chose to eat a slug for a laugh with his buddies in the rugby, at a party.
"The conversation came up, you know, 'Should I eat it?' And off Sam went". "And then off Sam went and bang, that's how it happened". In the days that followed, he began experiencing pain in his legs. Anyone with these symptoms should seek medical assessment although other infections (such as meningococcal disease or pneumococcal disease) are much more likely causes of meningitis in children.
He was anxious it might've been a symptom of eating the slug, but his mother told him not to worry: "No-one gets sick from that", she said. In fact, Ballard already had. "The parasitic worm Angiostrongylus cantonensis lives inside rodents" lungs. But slugs can become infected if they eat rat feces, health experts told the family.
The brain infection left Ballard in a coma for 420 days and made him paralysed from the waist down.
Earlier this year, Mr Ballard's friend Jimmy recalled the night of the party.
But she revealed to Australian media how hard it has been for Sam, coping with the consequences of a mindless action. "He spent the afternoon laughing at me as I read him the sports section of the newspaper with new glasses on".
"He is still the same cheeky Sam, and laughs a lot", she wrote.
"As far as I'm concerned he didn't do anything wrong", she explained.
It was just a silly dare among teenage boys.
"Take care of your mates and before you jump off a roof into a pool or dare your mate to do something stupid, just think about it because it can have the worst consequences, not only to your friend but to his family and the rest of his friends".
Mr Galvin said he apologised to Sam personally following the event and revealed he started "bawling his eyes out" when he did so.
He died Friday, surrounded by his family and friends, Australian journalist Lisa Wilkinson reported.
Lisa Wilkinson, a reporter who had previously covered Ballard's case, broke the news that he had passed away last week.
The NDIS said it had been "working closely with the Ballard family" to find a resolution and increase Sam's support package.
A friend of Mr Ballard, who was also present in the room during his final moments, confirmed the young man told his mother several times he loved her before he died.