On this day in 1968, surgeon Denton Cooley and his associates at Houston's St. Luke's Hospital performed the first heart transplant in the United States. The patient, Everett Thomas, lived for 204 days with the heart donated from a fifteen-year-old girl. Texas physicians and scientists made numerous contributions to the field of human heart transplantation as it evolved from preliminary experimentation to an accepted orthodox therapy for patients with end-stage cardiac disease. Two Houston surgeons, Cooley and Michael E. DeBakey, have been in the forefront in developing heart surgery and heart transplantation; their rivalry was the subject of a book by journalist Tommy Thompson. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a total of 26,704 heart transplantations had been reported worldwide by the mid-1990s, and 1,804 of these were performed in Texas. Worldwide, just over 3,000 heart transplants are performed each year. In 1994, 167 of these were in Texas.
On this day in 1903, stuntman and Corpus Christi native Robert B. Vandervoort performed his famed loop-the-loop for King Edward VII at a command performance in London. Vandervoort traveled around the United States and Europe under the stage name "Diavalo." His career was brought to a sudden end on November 20, 1906, when a railway car in which he was sleeping overturned near Albany, New York.
On this day in 1693, Gregorio de Salinas Varona, recently appointed governor of Coahuila, left Monclova, Coahuila, on a relief expedition to take supplies to the troubled missions of East Texas. The expedition consisted of some twenty soldiers, including early Texas pioneer Nicolás Flores de Valdés, and ninety-six mules loaded with provisions. Salinas, an experienced soldier and explorer, took the occasion of the trip to define a portion of the Old San Antonio Road. His diary of the expedition is an important source of information on the small Indian bands he encountered, including the Sacuache and the Piedras Blancas. As a relief mission, though, the expedition was a failure. Salinas reached San Francisco de los Tejas Mission, in what is now Houston County, on June 8 and found illness and death rampant among the mission Indians. The supplies Salinas brought were far short of the need. When he departed six days later, two of the mission's friars went with him, and conditions worsened after his departure. Salinas's term as governor ended on December 26, 1697.