In 1982, French soccer legend Jean-Pierre Adams was expected to have knee surgery. Despite being in “excellent condition” before undergoing an operation, the surgeons made a “medication error” that left him comatose. For years, Adams breathed through a tube and was unable to interact with the outside world, surviving into his seventies – until now he has died at the age of 73 after 39 years in purgatory.

The surgery he was undergoing on March 17, 1982, was nothing exceptional. It was considered typical by doctors. Since the anesthesia blunder in France’s Lyon Hospital, however, he has not awakened from his coma. He died at the Nimes University Hospital on Monday, September 6, 2021.

When John Adams went in for knee surgery at the age of thirty-four, he was unaware that the operation would result in a cerebral hemorrhage. He had already played twenty-two international matches for his country, France. And he felt certain that the procedure would be quick and painless. He claimed to feel fantastic before the surgery. Nonetheless, doctors miscalculated the process and placed him into a coma that lasted more than half his life.

When he didn’t respond after the surgical procedure, his doctors were unaware that they’d given him a potentially fatal amount of anesthesia. The soccer player was in danger since he had trouble with his anesthesia because the doctor who was supposedly repairing his knee was attending to eight other patients at once.

He was born in Dakar, Senegal, on April 23, 1948.

“It’s all fine. I’m in great shape,” he reportedly informed his wife, Bernadette, the day of the surgery. These were his last words, according to everyone’s accounts. He was married to Laurent and Frédéric two boys. She has been by his side since he did not wake up following the operation.

“Jean-Pierre feels, smells, hears, jumps when a dog barks. But he cannot see,” Bernadette stated in 2007.

Adams’ case was taken to the courts after the surgical blunder, where it was fought for seven years. The doctors were held responsible for Adams’ suffering.

In April 2020, Bernadette spoke out about Adams’ well-being for the first time. There had been discussion about euthanasia, but she challenged it.

“People on Facebook say he should be unplugged… But he is not plugged!” she said. “I just don’t have the courage to stop giving him food and water. He has a normal routine. He wakes up at 7, eats… He may be in a vegetative state, but he can hear and sit in a wheelchair.”

However, Bernadette had her detractors, including Marius Tresor, Adams’ former partner on the France team. The pair were dubbed “the Black Guard” because they were strong defenders for France from 1972 to 1976. According to Paris United in 2019, Tresor criticized Adams’s state of health.

“Even if Jean-Pierre wakes up now, he will hardly recognize anything. So is it worth it to keep living like this? If something like this should happen to me, I told my wife not to do anything to hold me back….”