Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ireland Nugent, 2-year-old amputee, in good spirits at Tampa General Hospital

TAMPA

Ireland Nugent's parents have tried explaining to their 2-year-old daughter that her legs have been amputated. So far, it is not working.

"We were playing with Mr. Potato Head yesterday and taking the feet on and off," Nicole Nugent said Wednesday. "And I said, 'This is going to be like you, Ireland. We're going to take your feet on and off.' She doesn't really understand. She's honestly so little that I don't really think she gets that."

Now in her third week of recovery after a lawn-mower accident severed both her legs below the knees, Ireland has asked almost no questions about the past, though her parents face worries about the future. The girl has endured seven surgeries and already suffered a setback — a patch of necrotic tissue in one leg that required an unexpected skin graft and delayed her return home.

On Wednesday, Jerry and Nicole Nugent talked of prosthetic-limb providers and group therapy for themselves and their other children as they awaited results from Ireland's most recent operations. Meanwhile, their daughter, propped in bed beside a Hamburglar doll and iPad, showed little of the fatigue or anxiety that could be read in her parents' faces.

The Tampa Bay Times and WTSP Channel 10 visited Ireland's room at Tampa General Hospital on Wednesday, the first time news organizations have been allowed to see the girl since the accident at her home in Palm Harbor on April 11.

Heavily dosed with pain medication, one arm fixed in the shape of an L by a much-scrawled-on cast, Ireland still showed signs of alertness and amusement.

As she surveyed her guests, her blue eyes glowed with a toddler's curiosity. Her cheeks were suffused with a healthy-looking flush.

Her dirty-blond ringlets tied in a topknot, Ireland gazed noncommittally at a garishly made-up clown visiting from Ronald McDonald House Charities. Presented with a package of Play-Doh and animal-shaped cookie cutters, she held one aloft. "Tiger," she said. It was an alligator.

A blanket was draped across her stumps. At one point, squirming in bed, she exposed the bandages and plastic cap on the bottom of her left leg at mid-calf. The family's pastor, Dennis Reid of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clearwater, quietly leaned in and tugged the blanket back into place.

On Tuesday, Jerry Nugent said, he was rubbing the ends of his daughter's legs, a form of physical therapy doctors say could help alleviate the "phantom limb" sensations that trouble many amputees.

"I love your little legs," he recalls telling the girl.

"Thank you, daddy," she replied.

Jerry Nugent accidentally backed into Ireland on a riding lawn mower at the family's home on April 11, after the girl ran out of the back yard.

Both her legs were severed below the knee. Her hand was also cut and her thumb broken.

Since then, financial and moral support from the community has overwhelmed the Nugents. Reid said a fund established for Ireland's medical care and associated expenses at Trinity Presbyterian had raised about $85,000 when last he checked. The family is already making plans to have Ireland fitted for prosthetic limbs in Orlando.

Nicole Nugent said she and her husband are now turning toward what awaits them beyond the hospital walls.

Small details about how to adjust their family's home life confound them, she said. Where will Ireland sleep? What do her siblings need to know about how to emerge from the trauma that has shadowed the last three weeks?

As her mother talked through such questions, Ireland began fumbling with another toy: a small replica of Winter, the famed Clearwater Marine Aquarium amputee dolphin that swims with the help of a prosthetic tail.

The tail of Ireland's stuffed dolphin was also detachable. She stared at the pieces of the toy, moving them together and apart.

Peter Jamison can be reached at pjamison@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4157.

How to help

Two funds have been set up to accept donations for Ireland Nugent's family.

• Trinity Presbyterian Church: Checks can be made out to "Trinity Presbyterian Foundation'' (with "Ireland Nugent'' on the memo line) and sent to Trinity Presbyterian Church, 2001 Rainbow Drive, Clearwater, FL 33765. Or donate by credit card online: www.trinityclearwater.org.

• The Pinellas County government has arranged for a special fund through Pinellas Federal Credit Union in Ireland Nugent's name. Find details online at www.pinellasfcu.org or call (727) 586-4422.

Ireland Nugent, 2-year-old amputee, in good spirits at Tampa General Hospital 05/01/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 2, 2013 9:26am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

    Nation

    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  2. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  3. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  4. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  5. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin

    World

    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]