The mother of a man who was paralyzed as a teen when, on a dare, he swallowed a parasite-infected slug, is fighting to have the government restore his recently-cut benefits for medical care.
When he was 19, Sam Ballard ate a garden slug while at a friend’s party in Sydney, Australia, in 2010.
He fell ill and was rushed to a hospital, where he slipped into a coma, the Herald Sun reported.
The slug he swallowed carried an infection called angiostrongyliasis, which authorities also call rat lungworm.
The infection is primarily found in rodents, but snails or slugs can contract the parasite if they eat feces from an infected rat.
“Some children, in particular, have gotten infected by swallowing snails/slugs 'on a dare,'" the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
Though the CDC notes those who come into contact with the disease typically recover fully without treatment, Ballard was in a coma for more than year and is now a quadriplegic.
Unable to communicate or care for himself, Ballard requires around-the-clock care to help him with basic functions.
He lives with a tracheostomy tube in place, suffers from seizures and cannot maintain a consistent temperature. His breathing must also be monitored, as a cough can cause him to choke to death, the Sun wrote.
“It’s devastated, changed his life forever, changed my life forever,” his mother, Katie Ballard, told the Sun. "It’s huge. The impact is huge."
His mother applied to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and Ballard was deemed eligible for $492,000 in 2016.
But in September, Katie Ballard said she received a text from the government agency to view her son’s account, which had been cut to just $188,600.
No explanation was given to Katie Ballard, who told the paper the cut has left the family in massive debt.
After pushing for a meeting with NDIS, Katie Ballard was able to sit down with officials last month.
"A resolution to this matter, which includes an increase to Sam's support package, is imminent," an NDIS spokesperson told the Sun.