Former rugby player left paralysed for life after eating slug in party dare

It should go without saying that young people do silly things. Learning from your experiences/mistakes is a ritual of life – one that most of us are fortunate enough to survive.

Admit it, there’s been a time when you’ve done a dare – or something similar – with the intention of impressing someone or making a group of people laugh.

For example, I can vividly recall one of my best friends being dared to jump over a fire on his bike. He fell off halfway through and escaped with minor burns, but he was handed a second chance along with a valuable lesson: Always put your own safety first.

For 28-year-old Sam Ballard, sadly there was no second chance. While attending a party in 2010, he was dared to do something that seemed relatively nominal at the time. Little did he know things would never be the same again…

In 2010, a 19-year-old Sam Ballard, at the time a burgeoning rugby player, was hanging with friends drinking wine at a party.

One of his buddies plucked a slug from the garden, placed it on the table in front of Sam and dared him to eat it.

Not wanting to decline the challenge, Sam accepted the dare and ate the slug. However, things quickly went downhill. Sam soon had to be rushed to a nearby hospital, having collapsed and been rendered immobile.

When his family got to his bedside, they were handed a heartbreaking diagnosis. Eating the slug had infected Sam with rat lungworm.


Usually found in rats, rat lungworm can be contracted by slugs and snails if they eat or make contact with rat droppings. Tragically for Sam, this is exactly what had happened with the slug he had swallowed.

Whilst symptoms of rat lungworm are usually relatively mild – most people get off without experiencing any problems – there are rare cases when it can cause severe complications. For Sam, the rat lungworm caused a devastating brain infection which would alter the course of his entire life.

After a bit of time and treatment, it seemed like Sam could recover from his infection, but cruelly he fell into a coma for 420 days and became quadriplegic.


Whilst his family have remained firm with their stance that Sam remains in good spirits, it’s impossible to deny that such a crushing prognosis hasn’t greatly affected the once-keen sportsman.

At the age of 28, Sam has to be fed through a tube by his mother and much of his former sparkle is lost.

Such a sad story, and our thoughts go out to Sam as he continues to fight his battle.

However, this is a perfect example of why you should always stop to think before doing something you believe might impress others. Sam made a simple mistake and it has obviously cost him so much, SHARE this article to warn others against similar things.



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