'The conversation came up, "should I eat it?"

Once a keen rugby player, Ballard's life changed forever in 2010, when he chose to eat a garden slug as a dare during a party at a friend's house.

In a news report on Ballard, one of his friends explained they were "having a wine appreciation night" when he took on the dare.

A TALENTED young sportsman who battled for eight years with a parasite infection caused by eating a garden slug has died.

The worm that infected Sam is usually found in rodents, but snails and slugs can also become infected when they eat rat faeces. He contracted eosinophilic meningoencephalitis ― a form of meningitis ― and fell into a coma that lasted 420 days.

Australian newsreader Lisa Wilkinson, working for Network 10, broke the news on Sunday, saying: "We have some sad news for you now".

"He contracted rat lung disease with devastating effects", Lisa told the show.

His close friends, many of whom were present at the party on a fateful night in 2010, stuck around for him. 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". She reported that his last words were "I love you", said to his mom. He could not eat for himself and he needed help going to the bathroom.

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While he was initially unable to move his limbs, the former Barker College student worked hard to regain some movement. He mentioned to his mother and the doctors that he had eaten a slug earlier. And he just started bawling his eyes out.

Another friend Michael Sheasby spoke of the first time he walked into the hospital room where Mr Ballard was being treated.

When his friends visited, they said his face lit up and he was very much "still there".

Katie Ballard, Sam's mother, says she doesn't blame the boys for their silly dare, or her son for taking them up on it.

'May Sam's star always shine bright, just the way it did in life, ' a mourner wrote.

In 2010, Australian teenager Sam Ballard did something that would change the course of his life forever. It's huge. The impact is huge, ' she said.

Since last September, the australian health system has made a decision to reduce the allocation of aid that allowed his mother, Katie, to cover the cost of care. Under Government's National Disability Insurance Scheme, the family got $471,000 for the care of Sam.