Dad dared to eat gecko dies 10 days later
Dad-of-three David Dowell was always known to never back down from a dare, but one he took last year - when a friend dared him to eat a gecko at a Christmas party - might've claimed his life.
Friends and family are still searching for answers six months after Logan dad Mr Dowell was dared to eat the lizard.
Mr Dowell, who would've turned 35 last week, was rushed to Brisbane's Mater Hospital in "absolute agony" on December 3, two days after friends reportedly saw him eat the gecko.
Mr Dowell's partner of 15 years Allira begged the paramedics to take him to hospital after they believed he just had a bad bout of gastro.
"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," Mr Dowell's sister Hannah told The Brisbane Times .
"When they got there, they (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'."
A day into his hospital stay, Mr Dowell was diagnosed with salmonella.
The illness, a foodborne bacteria, typically causes patients to suffer through days of diarrhoea, stomach cramps and fever.
But for Mr Dowell - things were much worse.
The dad-of-three began vomiting green bile, his urine was black and his stomach was so badly bloated he looked six months pregnant. His lungs also started to fill with fluid, and fluid leaked from his stomach.
A day after Mr Dowell was admitted to hospital, Allira was told by a friend they were "pretty sure" they had seen him eat a gecko.
"(Allira) told the doctor and the doctor said, 'That could have been it'," Ms Dowell said.
"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."
Hannah told the paper her brother was in "absolute agony".
Michelle Dowell, Hannah and David's mum, begged doctors to operate.
"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," Michelle told the paper.
On December 11, less than two weeks after he reportedly ate the gecko, Mr Dowell died in surgery.
His family said he "basically rotted from the inside out".
Hannah and her family are now calling for answers, especially relating to the decisions made at Mater Hospital. They claim the doctors "didn't really care".
"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."
In a statement, Mater Hospital said it was unable to comment on Mr Dowell's death.
"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."
Mr Dowell left behind three young girls. His funeral, held on December 21, was attended by hundreds of people.
A large number of animals carry salmonella in their gut - including snakes, frogs and geckos.