We celebrate the life and mourn the passing of our beloved colleague, friend and compadre, Jennifer Lee Knowles. Jen’s battle with cancer was short and fierce, and she left us so unexpectedly.Jen was the US Coordinator for Prótesis para la Vida and was devoted to the success and improvement of prosthetics in Ecuador. As a prosthetist and orthotist, Jen provided prosthetic and orthotic care for many patients during her several visits to Ecuador. When Jen met an Ecuadorean family with complicated issues regarding their disabled child, she tirelessly sought out solutions – for example, she looked for schooling in Quito for a young girl, she sought donations of advanced hand splints for two young children, she obtained a donation of a specialized walker for a child who needed it, she collaborated with local doctors to reach consensus on providing a higher level of orthotic care for several patients, and she worked for hours to improve the fit and adjustments in a pair of long-leg braces for a teenager. Jen sought the very best for everyone, regardless of how challenging the conditions were.
More than that, Jen was instrumental in developing our orthotic program, in forging connections with volunteers, donors, prosthetic companies, and inventors. Jen’s technological bent helped develop our skills in the areas of communications, website, and networking. She searched out evaluation tools and ways to improve our communication with and understanding of our patients, and measures to meet international standards of care. She brought several rehab engineers to our project for trials with new products that fit the rugged lifestyle of individuals in Ecuador.
How are we going to manage her many tasks, and function without her positive energy? If I ever complained or felt overwhelmed about a situation, Jen would ask me, “Well, what went well?” I am going to keep this phrase with me forever.