A man who allegedly ate a gecko as Christmas party dare died 10 days later after contracting a salmonella infection.
Father-of-three David Dowell, from Brisbane, Australia, allegedly ate a gecko at a Christmas party on December 1. The following day he felt unwell, but attributed this to being hungover. His symptoms worsened, and concerned family members called emergency services.
Ten days after he allegedly ate the gecko, the 34-year-old died in ‘absolute agony’, having been diagnosed with a salmonella infection. Six months on, his family have described how David had ‘basically rotted from the inside out’ after contracting the infection.
Speaking with The Sydney Morning Herald, David’s sister Hannah Dowell described her brother as being ‘just a great person and the kids have lost one of the best dads ever’.
Hannah explained how David’s symptoms grew more alarming in the days following the party, telling The Sydney Morning Herald:
Then on Monday, it was coming out both ends and he was really sick and the moment he started throwing up and it was green, that’s when they rang the ambulance.
When they got there, the (paramedics) didn’t even want to take him (to hospital). They said he just had gastro and his partner said: ‘no, you’ve got to take him; it’s not just gastro’.
After being taken to the Mater Hospital, David was diagnosed with a salmonella infection on Tuesday, December 4.
His family initially believed the salmonella had been caused by chicken, but then David’s partner, Allira, recalled he had eaten a gecko as a dare while at the party.
She [David’s partner] told the doctor and the doctor said ‘that could have been it’.
But there has been no evidence that he actually ate it because there was: ‘Oh yeah I saw him eat it’. And then: ‘No, I didn’t see him eat it’.
It was a dare, so he might have intended to eat it and then thrown it away. At the end of the day, we don’t know whether he actually ate the gecko. David never mentioned it.
Describing her brother’s symptoms, Hannah said he became very bloated, to the point where he resembled somebody who six months pregnant. His urine turned black and his vomit appeared green. After a few days, there was fluid on his lungs.
When I went up and saw him, he was just in absolute agony.
Mum was asking them [doctors] because he had a blockage, ‘can’t you just operate?’ They said no.
David’s mum Michelle, has claimed fluid leaked from her son’s stomach, telling The Sydney Morning Herald:
His testicles were swollen up to grapefruits and there was fluid leaking from them and they [doctors] said that was normal, it was just all of the fluid in his stomach cavity.
David died during surgery, after suffering suffered mass organ failure. The family have questions some of the decisions made by Mater Hospital staff, with Hannah stating:
The surgeon basically said that he needed that (surgery) straight away, We also asked why they didn’t give him a catheter and they said they didn’t think of that.
We had to ask for pain relief for David … He was put into a coma because they couldn’t control his pain. We never really got to say goodbye to him. It was like they didn’t really care. The moment he got moved into the intensive care unit, that’s when they got serious.
I want justice for David … or just answers. You don’t ever think anything like this could ever happen to you and then it does.
Mater Hospital have released the following statement, according to The Sydney Morning Herald:
Mater offers its deepest condolences to the family of Mr David Dowell. Mr Dowell’s case was referred to the Coroner, who determined Mater had provided appropriate care and no further action was required. Mater is unable to comment further on the case due to patient confidentiality.
The hospital has reportedly been unable to offer details about David’s case because of issues surrounding patient confidentiality.
Hannah has advised others to look out for the signs of salmonella, and to realise how serious it can be.
Our thoughts are with the family of David Dowell.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.