After 39 Years in a Coma, Soccer Player Is Dead

Jean-Pierre Adams suffered brain damage during routine knee operation
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2021 1:25 AM CDT
39 Years After Botched Knee Operation, Soccer Player Dies
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / NiseriN)

The former French soccer player whose coma was the longest of any man in history has died at the age of 73, 39 years after falling into a coma during a knee operation gone wrong. Jean-Pierre Adams played for teams including Paris Saint-Germain and Nice before the botched procedure in 1982. One of the first Black players to compete for France, Adams and Marius Trésor's central defensive partnership was called the "Garde Noire" or "Black Guard," CNN reports. Born in Senegal, Adams made 126 appearances for Nice, 41 for Paris Saint-Germain, and also played for Nimes Olympique, Mulhouse, and Chalon in a total of more than 285 appearances on the field. He also played 22 French national team games, Fox News reports.

He was hurt during a match, and an anesthetic mistake during the routine procedure that followed led to him falling into a coma. While the anesthetist dealt with eight patients "like an assembly line," Adams "was supervised by a trainee, who was repeating a year, who later admitted in court: 'I was not up to the task I was entrusted with,'" Adams' wife Bernadette, who took care of him at their home for decades, told CNN in 2016. He was given an almost fatal dose, causing brain damage, ESPN reports. The anesthetist and the trainee were both eventually given one-month suspended sentences and fined. Adams is survived by his wife and their two sons. (The longest coma in history was that of an American woman.)

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