Tampa surgeon remembered for skill, compassion, wisdom

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.

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"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.