Memar Ayalew receiving his physical therapy at the Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation outpatient office located in Silver Spring. Pictured with him is Lynda Hiponia, physical therapist.


Many local residents will forever remember the tragic apartment explosion that rocked our community on Aug. 10, 2016. The fire displaced at least 80 families from their homes in the Flower Branch Apartment complex in Silver Spring and killed seven people.

Memar Ayalew, of Ethiopia, was visiting his family while on break from a PhD program last summer when that devastating explosion changed his life forever. Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital, along with several other community organizations, came together to support Ayalew and some of the other fire victims in need of medical care and other assistance.  Read more of Ayalew’s recovery story.

Seven months later, Ayalew’s recovery continues with help from the community and Adventist HealthCare. NBC4 recently sat down with Ayalew to learn more about his experience, which you can hear about on the NBC4 website. He suffered several injuries and lost both his aunt and uncle to the explosion. While many of his injuries healed, his left knee had required constant physical therapy, which was donated by Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation.

“It was my impression that he had a tear of the cartilage or the ligament in the knee, and so initially we treated him with physical therapy, and Adventist Health Care was willing to provide him with care,” said Ayalew’s orthopedic surgeon, Christopher Magee, MD.

More recently, it was determined that Dr. Magee needed to perform an arthroscopy – a laparoscopic joint surgery – to repair the damage in Ayalew’s knee. With that operation complete, Dr. Magee is optimistic that his patient will now be able to get back to living a normal life.

“I have seen an amazing recovery after surgery. No doubt about it, it has helped me a lot. Now I have a brand new leg,” said Ayalew.

Ayalew is grateful to Washington Adventist Hospital for providing him with care free of charge.

“I never expected this to happen to me and to my relatives,” he said. “I mean, it’s incredible, but I am still alive.”

You can read the full story and watch the video here.

Source: ‘But I Am Still Alive’: Silver Spring Apartment Explosion Survivor Continues Recovery | NBC4 Washington