Jorge Romero was 28 years old and was barely received as a doctor. Anxious and without resources to the point that he slept on the floor, he was facing a guard in a hospital in Punta del Este when he was “dropped” by a patient he will never forget. Those who took him told him that he was asleep but Romero realized that the patient was actually dying. That dream was a coma.
The patient was Diego Armando Maradona.
Twenty years later, Romero spoke to the Teleshow news portal in a note that reproduces Infobae and tells chilling details of that summer of 2000 on the top beach in Uruguay.
Guillermo Cóppola was, he said, the person who contacted him and told him that Maradona was decomposed and asleep. “No one fell for the reality that he was dying,” he told Teleshow.
The story will be reflected in “Sueño bendito”, the series that will tell the life of the current Gymnastics coach.
—Here, Guillermo Coppola. I am with Diego Maradona, who sleeps two days ago. We couldn’t get him to wake up.
–But if you were sleeping two days ago he is not sleeping, he is in a coma.
The dialogue that was the beginning of a process in which Maradona was saved from dying. The doctor Jorge Romero he still remembers in detail the conversation he had with Guillermo Coppola when the businessman contacted the La Barra Polyclinic in Uruguay, asking for assistance in Diego Maradona.
The occurred January 4, 2000 and it was Romero’s fourth day of work, received a month ago.
“I slept on the Polyclinic floor, it was my first week there and I expected to work many hours to add money and be able to rent something”, remembers the doctor.
It was learned that in the first season of the series Sueño Bendito will show that internment that almost cost Maradona his life, which will be interpreted -at the different stages of his life- by Nicolás Goldschmidt, Nazareno Casero and Juan Palomino.
“Coppola told me to go there with the greatest possible caution. I grabbed my briefcase, got in my car and drove 23 km to the farm where they were.” It was one in the afternoon at the farm of the Argentine businessman Pablo Cosentino, located in the José Ignacio spa.
“Within 10 seconds of entering, I encountered strange situations. You could tell that Diego had not been there, but they had put it before I arrived, “said Romero, who still remembers the impression of having seen Maradona. lying on a wicker chair, dying. “Next to it was a person sleeping; Guillermo woke him up to come, and I checked Diego. I had a hypertensive crisis and a ventricular arrhythmia. In addition, he stopped breathing for periods of five or six seconds. It was very serious seriously. He was dying!“
Romero said that Coppola refused to allow Diego to be admitted. “The press is very difficult, so Maradona lives or dies with you”, the then representative of The 10.
“He said it half joke, and half seriously …” says the doctor, who after a hard conversation was able to convince him that it was essential to transfer him. “If we did not intern him, he would die in a few hours. We also couldn’t wait for an ambulance because it was going to take a long time, and we didn’t have time“
“I couldn’t believe what was happening. Usually in those circumstances I make him sign a paper that says they take over and I leave. But I thought the media would headline: ‘Maradona dies as a young doctor…’. And then, I stayed“
After Coppola had come to his senses, an unusual new conversation ensued. “Well, we took it!” Agreed the businessman, “but I’m going to bathe first. I’m a public figure, I can’t just go out like this. “
Romero sought valuable time while Coppola was in the bathroom and performed resuscitation on Maradona.
“It was an eternity,” he laments still today this rural doctor who since the age of 16 worked in sectors of social exclusion. “I have found myself in mud ranches with more containment than there was … Diego was dying and nobody really understood what was happening“
Maradona, Coppola and Romero moved to the hospital in a van, after two other people helped the ex-player (who was then seriously overweight) get into the vehicle, still unconscious. “But when we got into the truck, one disappeared,” remembers the doctor, surprised.
The businessman was behind the wheel, a collaborator was located in the passenger seat; and behind, the doctor and his famous patient. “I had both on and Guillermo asked me to take off my shirt so as not to attract attention. So I had to stay naked as I continued to control Maradona and called my boss to warn him that we were on our way to Cantegril Sanatorium, and that they wait for us with a stretcher “.
In the middle of the journey -about 30 kilometers- the businessman returned to having an attitude that disturbed the doctor: he stopped to load gasoline. “Diego was unconscious, dying, and Coppola had us 15 minutes standing at a service station”.
“When we got to the sanitarium everyone was waiting with a smile. No one had any idea of the seriousness of the situation!“he stresses. “Bring a stretcher now!”, he demanded, “totally alarmed”. “Ah, is it that bad?”, the head of the institution in which Maradona was admitted to the intensive care unit was surprised, where “the best cardiologist” treated him, according to Romero.
Later Romero had to appear to testify in Justice for a cause that was opened after a drug was found in Maradona’s body. The analyzes showed that there was cocaine hydrochloride in the blood and urine of the former soccer player. In addition, it was known that drug use had generated the crisis of hypertension and ventricular arrhythmia.
“Diego is a little annoyed because he wants to go, he asks for food and luckily he looks physically deflated. All those are good symptoms,” Coppola told the press, trying to minimize the situation, and just before entering the police department. to give a statement – what happens is that for the festivities he ate many roasts, made disorders and, as well as being overweight, made this hypertensive spike“
Romero spent six hours recounting what he lived that day since the officers suspected that someone had delivered the drugs in the farm, because no drugs were found on the plane that took Maradona to Punta del Este: “I told them what had happened. viewed: what happened was somewhere else because the place where I found Diego was cleansed. So I say that they had put it there before I got there. “
After his statement, Romero was subjected to a recognition round in which he noticed the presence of Coppola, the two men who were in the farm, but stated: “Missing one: the one who was sleeping next door when I got there. “
He was the Argentine publicist and platense Carlos Ferro Viera, who was later named as the person responsible for supplying the drug to Maradona during the Fiestas. At the same time that the former footballer was being admitted, the businessman was leaving Uruguay on a private flight from Laguna del Sauce.
With Diego in charge of the Cantegril Sanatorium doctors, Romero returned to his work at the La Barra Polyclinic, which was also his home in those days. That same week she asked for a bank loan to rent a house.
“I was still sleeping on the floor of the sanitarium. All I cared about was making money that first week so I could rent a roof. And this was distracting me -says about the harassment he felt from the press. They called me from all the sports channels in Argentina and even Italy. I’m low-key, I don’t like the show, and the last thing I wanted to do was lend myself to it. They were already breaking my balls with all this“
And so, took distance. “I was not going to see Diego because I had to work. Also, he was very serious. He was everywhere, there was no way that I would not find out how he was.” Romero went to visit him only once at Cantegril: when Maradona left the sedation state. “I was totally gone, but I felt that my work was not finished if I didn’t tell him: ‘Look crazy, you almost died’“
Around January 20, Maradona was transferred to Buenos Aires, and shortly afterwards he continued his rehabilitation treatment in Cuba. “Only there my life returned to normal”Romero describes, almost repeating today the sigh he emitted in those days.
The time passed for this doctor who defines himself as “an unfriendly type”. Today, at the age of 47, he continues to practice the profession, is married, and has a son, the result of a previous relationship. In these 20 years that have passed since he saved his life, Jorge Romero never had a chance to see Diego Maradona. Neither did she talk to him, nor to someone around her. “I would like to meet him, tell him that I was the one who took him to the hospital,” he confides. And ask him: ‘And crazy? Did you take care of yourself a little bit all this time? ’”.