Members of OUWB Class of 2020 process death of classmate, establish endowment
An image of members of the OUWB Class of 2020
Erfan Faridmoayer, M.D., OUWB '20, (back row, second from left) "always made it a point to find joy in everything and really radiated those feelings.” Here, he poses for a photo with classmates from the Class of 2020.

When Alison Thomas, M.D., talked right after Thanksgiving with fellow OUWB Class of 2020 alumnus Erfan Faridmoayer, M.D., she never imagined it would be for the last time.

After all, he had so much going for him — two successful years of residency in New York under his belt, in the middle of a prestigious fellowship, and perhaps most importantly, constantly represented “all that is good and kind in this world.”

Faridmoayer died of cardiac arrest on Dec. 7

News of the tragedy devastated just about anyone whoever crossed paths with the young doctor, including Thomas, who said it caused her to have a kind of “out of body experience.”

To donate to The Erfan Faridmoayer Memorial Fund, click here

“It was just so shocking and unfair and sad,” said Thomas. “Erfan was someone who never took a moment of life for granted because he had fought so hard to get where he was…my heart just broke.”

Nicholas Kondoleon, M.D., OUWB ’20, shared similar thoughts.

“Sometimes there are no words that can fully describe what you’re feeling in terms of loss,” he said. “From his close friends to those who were more distant, every single person who knew Erfan was impacted by his passing.”

“This was a close friend who we thought we would have for life and is now gone just way too soon,” he added.

To cope with such feelings of loss, Kondoleon, Thomas, and others have banded together on a new project: creating an OUWB endowment in the name of Faridmoayer.

‘Connected our whole class’

An image of members of the OUWB Class of 2020

From left, John Eed, M.D., Christopher Kanaan, M.D., Meelod Daneshvar, M.D., and Erfan Faridmoayer, M.D. — four members of a group that were known by classmates at "The Boy Band."

Faridmoayer, Meelod Daneshvar, M.D., Luke Odisho, M.D., John Eed, M.D., and Mavis Gappy, M.D. – all OUWB Class of 2020 — were collectively known as “The Boy Band.”

Christopher Kanaan, M.D., OUWB ’20, was also part of the group. Kanaan said the name was coined because the group of six always seemed to be together, whether in the OUWB Anatomy Lab or hanging out at a local coffee shop.

Because Faridmoayer’s relatives all lived in Iran, “The Boy Band” was about as close to family as it would get for him in the U.S.

And he made sure everyone knew how much that meant to him.

“Every single person in our class would agree that they were friends with Erfan,” said Kanaan. “He was someone that really connected our whole class. He was the glue between many different groups and he always had a smile on his face. He always made it a point to find joy in everything and really radiated those feelings.”

One Thanksgiving, Faridmoayer hosted a “Friendsgiving” party for OUWB students who would have otherwise spent the holiday alone. Kanaan said it “was forever cherished.”

“That night, we filmed a silly dance challenge (his idea) and laughed about it for weeks to come,” Susanna Jain, M.D., OUWB ’20, wrote on social media. “He was the life of the party, compassionate, and kind.”

Also cherished were his many talents, especially cooking Persian cuisine and playing piano.

“After exams, we would wait for Erfan to seat himself and improvise a beautiful melody on the piano,” said Kanaan. “Half the class would gather around the piano and gaze.”

Playing piano for others is just one example of how Faridmoayer made the most of every moment. According to Kanaan, he made the most of such moments because he never took for granted his journey to get to them.

Faridmoayer was able to travel to the U.S. from Iran after gaining permission via the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery, sometimes called the “green card lottery.”

“He frequently emphasized the desire to live the American dream and do what he never thought was possible growing up in Iran,” said Kanaan.

He attended community college in California before transferring to University of California-Los Angeles. From UCLA, he would earn a bachelor’s degree with honors in molecular, cell, and developmental biology. 

In 2016, he began attending OUWB.

Among other things, Faridmoayer was involved in tutoring, mentoring, surgical research studies, and presenting at local and national conferences. He started a student interest group for neurosurgery. Kanaan said he took inspiration from his father, who is a neurosurgeon.

“(He) thought he would end up in neurosurgery, but was intrigued by cardiac anatomy,” said Kanaan. “He never wavered once he had a goal in mind.”

In 2020, he matched in general surgery at State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn.

In late 2023, he was in the midst of a postdoctoral fellowship while pursuing a Master of Science in Biostatistics with the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

In short, he was living his “American dream.”

 “Whenever I found myself complaining, I would think about Erfan for a sense of inspiration,” said Kanaan. “He made everything difficult seem much easier, something I rarely find in others. I looked forward so much to the day he would perform his first open heart surgery…more so than I look forward to my own success. That is how much he meant to me.”

‘We want his legacy to continue’

An image of Erfan Faridmoayer

Friends called Faridmoayer “selfless,” and “an agent for all that is good and kind in this world.”

Kanaan was listed as Faridmoayer’s emergency contact.

On Dec. 7, most likely he was on his way from a research lab to his moonlighting shift and went into ventricular tachycardia that was sustained for enough of a time for him to arrest.

When Faridmoayer was found, it’s estimated that as many as 10 minutes had passed. He was given CPR for an extended period as well as mechanical circulatory support with ECMO to stabilize. However, he was left with a high degree of anoxic brain injury that was essentially irreversible from his arrest time and prolonged CPR.

According to Kanaan, “he fought nobly for his life and was able to last until his parents came from Iran. He passed…with his brothers and loved ones (at his bedside).”

As news of his death spread, many shared feelings about Faridmoayer on social media.

“Erfan was so nonjudgemental and was truly one of the kindest people I had ever met,” wrote David Weinfeld, M.D., OUWB ’20. “He was inquisitive, such a good listener, and fun to be around. I was inspired by how much he loved medicine.”

“Erfan was one of those people who you couldn’t help but have a smile on your face when you were around him because he was just such a joy to be around,” wrote Kojo Asantey, M.D., OUWB ’20. “He had such a passion for medicine and for helping others, but he also just had such a great passion for life.”

Kanaan also said Faridmoayer was “selfless,” and “an agent for all that is good and kind in this world.”

With such an impact on others, Thomas said she and others sought to cement his legacy at OUWB. The Erfan Faridmoayer Memorial Fund has been established.

Jordan Nash, development associate, OUWB, said the school fully supports an endowment in Faridmoayer’s name.

“OUWB recognizes the profound impact Erfan had on the community and believes that establishing a scholarship in his name is a truly meaningful way to commemorate his memory and perpetuate his passion for helping others,” he said.

Nash said OUWB is “grateful for the outpouring of support from the community,” and is hopeful additional donors for the fund will come forward.

“At this time, the scholarship fund is in the process of being established and we are actively working towards reaching our fundraising goals,” he said.

Details are still being finalized about who might receive support through the fund, but Thomas said it will likely be those who have compassion for community and uphold qualities like Faridmoayer.

And Thomas said the OUWB community supporting each other through the tragedy of Faridmoayer’s death isn’t surprising.

“At OUWB, it’s not just a cliché thing to say it’s all about community,” she said. “Faculty, classmates, and anyone else we’ve talked to has been so distraught by this news and so willing to help. That’s something that sets OUWB apart from other medical schools…students aren’t just a number.”

“People knew and loved Erfan,” she added.

Contact Jordan Nash at [email protected] for more information about supporting the Erfan Faridmoayer Memorial Fund.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.