Plastic surgeon Ke-Ping Tsao has assumed care of the past patients of Dr. James Thornton, one of the four Flying Samaritans who died on a medical aid mission in October when their small plane crashed into a mountain in Baja California.
With the permission of Thornton’s family, 6,000 patient files for Dr. Thornton’s plastic surgery practice have been transferred to Tsao’s practice at 1035 Peach St.
Tsao and Thornton knew each other for more than 40 years, having studied together at UC Irvine Medical Center in the 1970s.
Tsao is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and on the medical staffs of French Hospital Medical Center and Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. He received the Louis Tedone Humanitarian Award from French in 2007, and is president of the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden.
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Thornton, who lived in Arroyo Grande and practiced medicine in San Luis Obispo, had served with the Flying Samaritans since 1985. He took two trips a year with the organization, treating people with debilitating problems such as cleft palates, serious burns or clubbed hands.
The other Flying Samaritans who died in the crash were pilot Roger Lyon, Dr. Graciela Sarmiento and Cal Poly student Andrew Thiel.