UA alum, her husband, both lose lower left legs in Boston bombing

2013-04-23T00:00:00Z 2014-04-21T11:28:56Z UA alum, her husband, both lose lower left legs in Boston bombingMartha Bebinger Kaiser Health News Arizona Daily Star
April 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Only the most seriously injured of the 188 marathon bombing patients remain hospitalized. UA graduate Jessica Kensky Downes and her husband, Patrick Downes, are among them.

The couple were cheering runners near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the explosions threw them apart. Patrick and Jessica each lost the lower part of their left legs.

Friends are having a hard time reconciling this news with memories of the joyful pair who married last August. Smiles in photos of Jessica, who graduated from the University of Arizona in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in women's studies, and Patrick jump off the screen.

"But that's not just a photograph," says Leslie Kelly, who watched Jessica grow up just outside Sacramento, Calif. "Those two are the happiest, most optimistic, wonderful people," Kelly says, noting that this provides "a real good foundation for both of them going forward."

Jessica's right foot was also badly damaged in the blast, but the family has told friends it looks like it can be saved. And Patrick's third surgery went well. Family members declined requests for an interview, but a few friends are sharing their story.

"When Patrick came to, he asked if the Red Sox had won," says Boston College buddy Tom Treacy. "It sounded like they were certainly in good spirits."

Friends and strangers have donated more than $500,000 in four days to help the couple cope with whatever comes next.

"They do know that people out there are coming together for them, and I think it's really helped them," says Kelly, who set up one of two online funds. "They're very courageous."

Patrick and Jessica were taken to different hospitals but have spoken by phone. Both work in health care. Jessica, 32, is a nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital. Patrick, 29, is finishing a graduate degree at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology.

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