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Jean-Pierre Adams: The 39-year coma that didn’t stop love

All along, his wife Bernadette took care of him:  His story is being republished by CNN to mark his passing on September 6, 2021. The article was first published on January 4, 2016.


What present do you buy a man who has been in a coma for more than 30 years?

That’s the question the family of former #France international Jean-Pierre Adams, whose life was brutally turned upside down in 1982, asks itself every year on key anniversaries.

Thirty-nine years ago the beefy #footballer, then 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,” says Bernadette. 

Adams, who turned 73 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.

“We buy presents like a T-shirt or a jumper because I dress him in his bed — he changes clothes every day,” his wife explains at the family home near Nîmes, in the south of France, where Bernadette cares for Jean-Pierre.

“I’ll buy things so that he can have a nice room, such as pretty sheets, or some scent. He used to wear Paco Rabanne but his favorite one stopped so now I buy Sauvage by Dior.” 

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.

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