Officials at Massachusetts General Hospital have identified two of its doctors killed in an avalanche in Canada earlier this month.
Victor Fedorov and Lauren Zeitels, internal medicine residents at the hospital, died when they were buried in an avalanche while snowshoeing in the area of Banff National Park in Alberta. Federov and Zeitels were described by MGH President Peter Slavin as "rising stars" at the hospital. They were both in the second year of the hospital's internal medicine residency program.
Fedorov and Zeitels were seasoned outdoor enthusiasts, and the hospital said they had extensively planned their trip and taken every possible safety precaution.
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"The last two weeks have been extremely difficult and emotional for our community as together we waited, hoped and prayed for a different outcome," MGH Physician-in-Chief Katrina Armstrong and Residency Program Director Jatin Vyas said in a joint statement. "We mourn these dedicated and promising physicians who were full of life and embodied the kind of devotion, compassion and brilliance that represent the best of medicine and humanity."
Fedorov was born in Moscow, Russia, and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Richmond and received his medical and doctoral degrees at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.
Zeitels grew up in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge and completed her medical and doctoral degrees at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Zeitels' parents said their daughter loved the outdoors and hiked all over the world.
"She was just one of the most loving, thoughtful, and benevolent people that you could ever want to know," said Susan Zeitels, Lauren’s mother.
She said the two friends took all sorts of safety gear for what was supposed to be a 20-minute walk.
"They read books on avalanche control, they were very safe and that’s the main thing that we want everyone to know is that she took every safety precaution that was possible," Susan Zeitels said.
Lauren’s family members say they take comfort in that she was doing what she loved, and they don’t believe she suffered.
"She was happy, it was a beautiful day, and that’s what we think of," said Susan Zeitels. "She was out in the beautiful sunshine with the sparkling snow and she really didn’t know what happened to her."
"She was a loving daughter," said Jerrold Zeitels, Lauren’s father. "We loved her more than anything in the world."
Hospital officials said the friends "enthusiastically embraced all life had to offer."
"They loved people, science, travel, and experiencing new cultures. They cherished interacting and connecting with all they encountered — patients, families, colleagues, mentors, unit staff, support staff, researchers, trainees," said Armstrong and Vyas. Their dedication to delivering compassionate care of the highest quality coupled with a resolve to understand and find answers to poorly understood diseases are the legacy they leave at MGH — indeed, at every place they touched."