Father-Of-Three Who Ate A Gecko On A Dare At A Party Dies In ‘Absolute Agony’ Just 10 Days Later

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David Dowell, a 34-year-old father of three, died in December of 2018.

Though his passing was a tragedy, the details of his illness won’t soon be forgotten by anyone who hears of them.

Dowell died of complications related to salmonella after being dared to eat a gecko at a Christmas party.

David’s sister Hannah told the Brisbane Times that his family didn’t know anything was wrong until the next day:

“It was coming out both ends and he was really sick…the moment he started throwing up and it was green, that’s when they rang the ambulance.”

At first, paramedics were hesitant to take David, but the family insisted he be taken to the hospital right away. He was diagnosed with the bacterial infection salmonella three days later.

Salmonella, known for often being transmitted through uncooked meats, can cause “diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps” in mild cases, which usually clear on their own after about a week.

In rare scenarios where the infection passes through a victim’s intestines into their bloodstream, however, the ailment can be fatal.

After being reminded about the Gecko dare, Dowell’s family informed Mater Hospital staff, who theorized it might be the source of his infection.

Though no one in the family actually saw David eating the reptile, Mark Turner, from the University of Queensland’s school of agriculture and food sciences, said the creature may have had the bacteria in its body:

“It’s possible that if the gecko was eaten, as it was being digested, the salmonella was released, but I have never heard of anything like this before. It just goes to show that things as innocent as geckos can carry disease bacteria.”

David’s situation continued to worsen, with his continued green vomit accompanied by his urine turning black.

Describing his situation as “absolute agony,” David’s mother also noted:

“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.”

After suffering organ failure on December 11, 2018, David was rushed into emergency surgery, where he died.

His family is now questioning the quality of his care at the hospital, with Hannah Dowell commenting:

“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.”

Analysis by a coroner concluded the hospital had provided “appropriate care.”

It just goes to show: eating a gecko is never, EVER a good idea.

The home resource Deadly Daffodils, Toxic Caterpillars: The Family Guide to Preventing and Treating Accidental Poisoning Inside and Outside the Home, available here, can educate you on what other toxic threats to look out for.


Written by Collin Gossel

Collin Gossel is a writer and comedian living in Brooklyn, New York, but there are nights when he looks up at the stars and wistfully thinks to himself “there’s got to be more out there…” You can catch Collin improvising new musicals every Tuesday night at the Magnet Theater’s Musical Megawatt, or follow his unfiltered thoughts on Twitter and Instagram @CollinGossel.--