- BBC News World
More than half of his life in a coma.
French footballer Jean-Pierre Adams died this Monday at the age of 73, after living unconscious for 39 years.
In March 1982, the footballer was admitted to the hospital for knee surgery, but never regained consciousness after an error in the delivery of anesthesia.
Born in Senegal, the defender played more than 140 games for Nice. He was also part of the Paris St-Germain squad.
The latter team, in a statement, said that “this Monday, September 6, PSG lost one of its greatest glories.” He added that Adams’s “joie de vivre, charisma and experience command respect.”
Nice said, for its part, that the club will pay tribute to Adams, who won 22 games for the French national team between 1972-1976, in their next home match against Monaco on 19 September.
Adams also made 84 appearances with the Nimes, who sent his “deepest condolences to his loved ones and his family.”
How did he end up in a coma?
Jean-Pierre Adams was taken to the hospital with a torn knee ligament after he injured himself training with his soccer teammates.
The day of the operation, on March 17, 1982, many members of the Lyon hospital staff were on strike.
However, the surgery went ahead, with the anesthetist treating eight patients, including Adams, at the same time.
The athlete was supervised by an apprentice, who later acknowledged: “I was not up to the task I was given.”
Numerous mistakes were made between the anesthetist and the trainee, causing Adams to suffer cardiac arrest and brain damage.
It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that they both received a conviction for the harm done to Adams.
It was a suspended sentence of one month and a fine of 750 euros.
Adams was released from the hospital after 15 months and has since been cared for at his home in Nimes by his wife, Bernadette.
“A Remarkable Devotion” – By Piers Edwards, BBC Sport Africa
Bernadette Adams is an extraordinary woman, a gentle but steel-made soul who never once considered turning off her husband’s life support machine despite his vegetative state.
For four decades, she took care of Jean-Pierre almost every day, changing his clothes, preparing his food, never forgetting to give him gifts, and often talking to him as well.
The answer was always the silence of a man who was once described as “great” and whose skills were highly rated by German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer.
The nurses only reported mild mood swings on the rare occasions that Bernadette was absent for a night or two.
I visited the Adams home in southern France in 2016, after Bernadette reported that the hospital had never apologized for a mistake she couldn’t help thinking about every day.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.