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

2021/09/14
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," Bernadette told CNN.
    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.
    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 52 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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