After one of the longest cases of reported comas in living memory, the death of Jean-Pierre Adams, a Senegalese-born soccer player who fell into the state in 1982, has been confirmed. Adams’ passing was announced at the Nimes University Hospital in France on Monday morning. He was 72 but spent the last 39 years of his life plugged into life-support.
In 2007, his wife Bernadette told the media in France that “Jean-Pierre feels, smells, hears, jumps when a dog barks. But he cannot see”. It was ultimately her decision to keep the man to whom she had been married only a few years alive.
As tasking as it was, Bernadette devoted her time, resources and life to tending to Adams. She changed his clothing and reportedly spoke to him every day. Their two children Laurent, who was born in 1969, and Frédéric, born in 1976, have children of their own but their father never got the opportunity to play with his grandkids.
Adams, born on March 10, 1948, in Senegal, played soccer as a central defender. He featured for Paris Saint-Germain which is now famous for the likes of Neymar and Lionel Messi. But he had been in a coma since March 17, 1982, due to medical negligence following a knee operation handled by a trainee at Lyon Hospital.
Adams’ doctor while he was at Paris Saint-Germain led an attempt to punish the operating doctors and Lyon Hospital. The case would go on for some seven years before the Seventh Chamber of Correctional Tribunal in Lyon eventually found the doctors guilty of involuntary injury.
The anesthetist and trainee surgeon were given a one-month suspended sentence and a fine that translates to $815 today.
To keep Adams in care, support came from Nîmes, the other club he played for and Paris Saint-Germain. In 1982, they both offered 15,000 francs (about $15,000 at the time) while the French football federation gave 6,000 francs (about $6,000) per week after an initial contribution of 25,000 ($25,000 at the time )in December 1982.
In addition, Adams’ former clubs played charity matches. The Variétés Club de France, a charitable organization still running today, and backed by famous French soccer legends like Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane and Jean-Pierre Papin, played a fixture in Adams’ honor against a group of his footballing friends. The support from various sources of benevolence continued to pour in for four decades.
Adams is said to have loved Brazilian music, cigars, clothing and bling, and was also described as humorous. He played 22 times for the French national soccer team.