Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.
Now the 35-year-old mother hopes she can be as brave as her little girl as she endures her own amputation.
Del Corpo-Nugent will lose her lower right leg Monday or Tuesday, she told the Tampa Bay Times from Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor via Facebook messenger, and she will be fitted for a prosthetic within the next couple of weeks.
The surgery is necessary due to osteomyelitis — a rare and serious infection of the bone.
"Ireland is happy to have someone like her," Del Corpo-Nugent said Sunday. Asked if her daughter's bravery will keep her upbeat, she simply responded, "Always."
Now 7, Ireland lost both her legs below the knees in April 2013 when her father Jerry Nugent accidentally backed over her on a riding lawn mower at the family's home.
But the girl has not let the disability slow her down.
Videos and photos on the Ireland Nugent Family Support Page on Facebook show the double prosthetic-wearing Ireland as part of a cheerleading team, playing golf and taking part in marathons.
It was during an event in California last October for "challenged athletes" in which Ireland competed that mother Del Corpo-Nugent was injured.
"She was surfing," Del Corpo-Nugent said of her daughter. "There were signs that water was contaminated with seal waste. I must have had a cut or something in my foot, but I was not letting Ireland go in the water alone."
Soon after, Del Corpo-Nugent's leg and the bottom of her foot swelled.
She has since been through approximately 10 surgeries, she said, but with 90 percent of her right foot's bone now gone and the wound still not healing, she said "the doctors have decided amputation is the best life-saving option."
Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] Follow @PGuzzoTimes.