1966: Joined Air Force after High School Graduation
Became Fighter-Pilot in Vietnam
1973: Discharged from Air Force
July 23, 1973: 25 Years Old:
Severe burns over 65% of his body
Asks farmer (first rescurer to reach him on road) for gun to commit suicide; farmer refuses.
Transferred to Burn Unit of Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, where he remains for 232 days.
Fingers amputated; right eye removed; left eye sewn shut
Consistently requested to be allowed to die
Dr. Charles Baxter, head of Burn Unit at Parkland regards:
Ada Cowart, Dax' mother and
Rex Houston, Dax' Lawyer,
as surrogate decision-makers.
Rex Houston pleads with Dax to continue treatment until lawsuit successfully settled.
February, 1974: lawsuit settled
March 12, 1974, transferred to (Houston) Texas Institute for Research and Rehabilitation
Dr. Robert Meier, founder of TIRR encourages patient involvement in treatment decisions.
After three weeks, resident mentions that rehab. will extend over years.
Dax refuses wound care and stops eating and drinking.
Within days his condition deteriorates terribly; a family meeting is called (Ada Cowart had not previously been encouraged to spend time with Dax at TIRR). Ada and Rex attend.
At the meeting, in which Dax takes active part, it is agreed to transfer him for aggressive care of his wounds.
WITH HIS CONSENT, Dax is transferred to John Sealy Hospital of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where his injuries can be treated by burn specialists. He stays there for 14 months.
Dr. Duane Larson performs skin grafts and advises further surgery to maximise mobility and function. Dax intermittently refuses, and once crawls out of bed, apparently trying to find a window to use in a suicide attempt.
Psychiatrist Robert White of psychiatric services is consulted. He is impressed by Dax' lucidity and rationality.
Although now regarded as competent, Dax could not secure cooperation with suicide or discharge from hospital.
Dr. White secures changes in medication and treatment schedules. Dax reluctantly agreed to cooperate with most treatment, but would sometimes refuse.
July 15, 1974, Dax is transferred to psychiatric unit of Jennie Sealy Hospital in the University of Texas Medical Branch.
September 19, 1974, Dax is discharged home
He attempts suicide, crawling out to road near home where he lives with his mother, hoping to be struck by a truck.
Receives treatment for depression and enrolls in law school
Attempts suicide by medication overdose while in law school
Dr. White recommends re-hospitalization to evaluate insomnia and pain medications.
Following 1-month hospitalization Dax improves and continues to see Dr. White as outpatient.
This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 2000