TAMPA, Fla. - Friends and patients are remembering a beloved Tampa surgeon who was killed Saturday when the twin-engine plane he was piloting crashed near Kokomo, Indiana.
Dr. Daniel Greenwald was alone in the plane, which friends say Greenwald was bringing back to Tampa for the owner, a friend of his.
"In so many respects, Dr. Greenwald saved my life," breast cancer survivor Diane Reese told FOX 13. "It is heartbreaking. It's very heartbreaking. It's a loss."
Known to many as Dr. Dan, he traveled internationally to treat patients who could not afford care - in places like Russia, Haiti, and Cuba. He was known for battling insurance companies and he performed gender reassignment surgery without pay.
"He didn't have a selfish bone in his body," said longtime friend Jim Webb. "His heart was as big as the universe. I mean he had such a compassion for people."
The crash that took his life wasn't Greenwald's first. In 2008 he and a passenger walked away after his aerobatics plane crashed on Davis Islands.
"He had so much skill, so much wisdom, and he had so much self-confidence that he was able to do that in a way that's different than most people I know," said friend and FOX 13 News medical reporter Dr. Joette Giovinco.
Greenwald had an Ivy League education, but a common touch.
"The amount of love he showed his patients was immense," said Dr. Ravi Bukkapatnam, a friend and former chief of staff at Tampa General Hospital. "Dan lived life to the fullest."
The cause of the crash isn't know. Federal investigators are looking into it.