March 17, 1982 was a fateful day for former footballer Jean-Pierre Adams, originally from Senegal. That day he was to carry out what was to be a very simple routine operation on his knee. But at the hospital in Lyon, absolutely everything went wrong that day, writes CNN. He was so injured by the operation that he has been in a coma since that day. For three decades he has been cared for at home by his wife, Bernadette.
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Turned 73 years old
CNN has interviewed Bernadette Adams several times, most recently in early March this year. It was to mark that Adams turned 73 on March 10, which means he has spent over half of his life in a coma. In the 70’s, Adams was a famous footballer who played for several French clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain and Nice. At the time of the disaster, Adam was 34 years old and in good shape. His football career was admittedly successful, but he was active as a coach for youth.
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It was at a coaching course in Dijon that he injured his foot. On March 17, 1982, he was admitted to Édouard Herriot Hospital in Lyon. There were several things that went terribly wrong, including strikes and a lack of qualified staff. He received the wrong dose of anesthesia and was intubated incorrectly so that he could not breathe. All this led to cardiac arrest. Jean-Pierre survived, but his brain was damaged and he ended up in a coma.
– I did not leave the hospital for five days, says his wife Bernadette.
– I thought he would wake up and that I should be there.
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Think he’s feeling something
But Jean-Pierre Adams never woke up from the coma. After a year and a half in hospital, he was allowed to return home to his wife Bernadette and their two sons aged four and 11. He’s been there ever since. Meanwhile, the children have grown up, while Adams has become the grandfather of two.
Bernadette still cares for and feeds him, and thinks she has some kind of contact with him. He breathes himself, and reacts a little to contact. His whole family talks to him regularly, hoping he’ll get something. Bernadette buys clothes and birthday presents for him.
– I think he feels something. He must recognize the sound of my voice, says Bernadette, who tells CNN that the nurses who take care of him believe that he reacts when she is gone. She admits that she worries about his future if she dies before him.
Jean-Pierre Adam’s tragic fate is well known in France, and in French football there have been several fundraisers for him.
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