Blind, disfigured and helpless, Dax had consistently asserted his right to refuse medical treatment, including further corrective surgery on his hands useless, unsightly stumps as well as the daily, excruciatingly painful baths in the Hubbard tank. At the time of his admission to UTMB, he had become adamant that he be allowed to leave the hospital and return home to die--a certain outcome since only daily tankings would prevent overwhelming infection.
Fire has excavated almost to the bone both his face and body. Still, even in his blunted features, agony has found a way to Dax cowart itself. The young man's suffering is captured in the flickering black-and-white images of a grainy tape filmed in a Texas hospital 25 years ago.
Once, Donald Cowart was an Air Force pilot who flew jets in and out of Vietnam; a handsome, strong-willed man with a passion for driving fast in his Alfa Romeo. He is a young man, only 25, and he cries out in pain as other men in surgical masks place his atrophied pound body onto a motorized lift.
Slowly they lower him, naked and shivering, into a stainless steel tank of water laced with Clorox. Against the backdrop of his cries, they scrape the dead tissue from his burned body.
Once, Don Cowart was an athlete; a popular, fun-loving student; captain of the football team in high school and a champion rodeo cowboy in college. He is a young man, only 25, who cannot see his hospital tormentors. His right eye is gone, his left eyelid sewn shut. Nor can he push them away with his maimed hands.
But he can hear the ominous clanking noise of the pulley lowering him into the tank; the voices singing a hair-cream jingle on a radio; the water splashing as he enters it.
Then the pain blocks out everything. Once, Donnie Cowart was a towheaded 4-year-old, an independent boy who liked nothing better than riding his horse, Cactus, on the family's cattle ranch in East Texas.
Easy on the back of my leg! Perhaps the casualness of his response masks the terrifying thought that this could have happened to him. In silence, the masked men do what they must. And when they finish, Don Cowart is taken back to his hospital room to scream in pain until, exhausted, he passes out.
When he wakens, the agony will begin again. And just as he has done almost daily since the explosion and fire that destroyed his body, Don Cowart will fight for his right to stop life-sustaining treatment and go home to die.
This is my body, he will tell the doctors, and I have the right to decide whether I want to live or die. We don't believe you really want to die, the doctors will reply. It's just your pain and depression talking.
One day you'll thank us for this. He will plead with his mother and his lawyer to help him get out of the hospital. He will turn to ministers, nurses, family and friends. But no help will come. It isand Don Cowart is a lone voice in the emerging struggle to establish a competent patient's right to make treatment decisions.
He has experienced what everyone fears: A terrible accident has altered his body, and he has lost control of his life.
Two years will pass before the case of Karen Ann Quinlan focuses the nation's attention on a family's battle to remove their comatose daughter from life support, raising the complicated issues of an individual's right to die and the increasing role played by medical technology in that dilemma.
It will be another 11 years before Elizabeth Bouvia, a young woman paralyzed by cerebral palsy and seeking to die by starvation, wins a landmark case in which a California state appeals court affirms her right not to be force-fed.
And not until will the U. Supreme Court affirm for the first time a person's constitutional right to refuse medical treatment in the case of Nancy Cruzan, a young Missouri woman who, after a car accident, lapsed into a vegetative state. But what of the young man who was forced to live?
What became of Don Cowart, faced with the unimaginable task of inhabiting not only a changed body but a drastically changed life? Twenty-five years have passed, and Don Cowart no longer exists.
He is Dax Cowart now. And his case has become one of the most discussed and debated in the literature of medical ethics, raising profound questions about the issues surrounding a hastened death.Dax Cowart (born Donald Cowart) is an attorney noted for the ethical issues raised by efforts to sustain his life against his wishes, following an accident in which Cowart suffered severe and disabling burns over most of his body.
Dax Cowart was a regular guy till a freak accident severely injured and handicapped him into the hospital. Several times on the way to the hospital, though, Cowart requested for others to participate in his death by either asking the Farmer who found him to give him a shotgun, or asking the ambulances to not take him to the hospital and instead.
Dec 18, · Dax Cowart Medical Ethics and Law. Dax Cowart Medical Ethics and Law. Skip navigation Sign in. Dax's Case - Duration: Alexander Street, a ProQuest Company 8, views.
Please Let Me Die is one of the most significant and most disturbing stories in contemporary biomedical ethics. The documentary itself captures the past and present lives of Dax Cowart by juxtaposing the still images of a young, dashing fighter pilot staring directly at the camera, a high school football hero posed for the yearbook, and a .
Dax Cowart (born Donald S. Cowart, ) is an American attorney noted for the ethical issues raised by efforts to sustain his life against his wishes following an accident in which he suffered severe and disabling burns over most of his body.
Ten months after being burned over 68% of his body, Dax Cowart was interviewed on videotape at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston by Dr. Robert B. White. Blind, disfigured and helpless, Dax had consistently asserted his right to refuse medical treatment, including further corrective.