Former France international Jean-Pierre Adams entered into a coma in 1982 following a botched operation on his knee. His story is being republished to mark his 71th birthday on March 10, meaning he has now spent over half his life in a coma. “He maintains his health as good as is possible,”
37 years ago the beefy footballer, when he was 34, walked into a Lyon hospital for some routine surgery to correct a troublesome knee. By the time he left, he would never talk, walk or move any of his limbs again.
His wife Bernadette has tended to him ever since, barely missing a day’s care over the last three decades.”No one ever forgets to give Jean-Pierre presents, whether it’s his birthday, Christmas or Father’s Day,”
Adams, who turns 71 on March 10, can breathe on his own, without the assistance of a machine, and has his own room, where he spends most of the day in the type of modified bed normally found in a hospital.
Jean-Pierre’s disastrous surgery reduced a flamboyant character, who had risen from humble beginnings in Senegal, to one who has been in a persistent vegetative state ever since.
A France international player in the 1970s, Jean-Pierre is now incapable of nearly all voluntary movement but can digest food as well as open and close his eyes.
Bernadette looks after her husband with an unfailing love — dressing, feeding and bathing him, turning him over in his bed to avoid sores, and often losing her own sleep to ensure he gets his.
It’s a measure of their bond that on the rare occasions Bernadette spends a night away from home, Jean-Pierre’s carers notice his mood seems to change.
“He senses that it is not me feeding him and looking after him,” says his wife of 48 years. “It’s the nurses who tell me, saying he is not the same.”I think he feels things. He must recognize the sound of my voice as well.”
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