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. Coming to Hulu in August: 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure,' 'Saw' movies and more

    Blogs

    Hello, binge-worthy new additions to Hulu. Clue, Clueless and five Saw movies? You spoil us, Hulu.

    Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.
  2. Whitman: Hollywood whitewashing raises questions about Jesus' depiction

    Religion

    I grew up believing in white Jesus.

    A painting on my grandma's wall depicted a blonde, blue-eyed Christ.

  3. Special sorority seeks ways to help their Green Berets and themselves during St. Leo summit

    War

    ST. LEO — Julie Huynh-Rusk lies down on the floor of a St. Leo University conference room, covered by a blanket and a pink eye-pillow.

    Julie Huynh-Rusk, 31, of Seattle, takes advantage of a meditation session at Saint Leo University on Wednesday as part of the Steel Mags Summer Summit. 
The Steel Mags Sorority was founded to help spouses, daughters, mothers, and sisters of  Green Berets. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]

  4. Watch: Sarasota vlogger goes on viral rant against MTV's 'Siesta Key'

    Blogs

    Looking forward to MTV’s Siesta Key? Well, this Florida native definitely is not.

    Vlogger Louie Carey posted his reaction to MTV's "Siesta Key" in a viral video.
  5. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 23: Of tiny towns, wonderful naps and dreamlike ice cream bars

    Travel

    Day 23: Murias de Rechivaldo to Foncebadon: 20.8 km, 6 hours. Total for Days 1-23 = 541 km (336 miles)