Ireland and Jerry Nugent
On Thursday, the parents of Ireland Nugent, a Florida toddler whose legs were cut off in a tragic lawnmower accident, received some good news. She had her last surgical procedure and is cleared to leave the hospital over the weekend. "She did great today," Nicole, the toddler's mom, tells Yahoo! Shine. "It looks like we're going home."
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According to the family's pastor and official spokesperson, Dennis Reid, Ireland was playing on the family's screened-in porch under the supervision of her mother. She sneaked out while Jerry Nugent was driving up the driveway on a rider lawnmower. Mom immediately ran out and began waving her arms to alert him—Jerry thought she was signaling there was something in front of him and put the mower in reverse, running over his daughter. "They live for their kids," Reid told Yahoo! Shine. "This was a freak accident. They are fantastic parents."
Both of Ireland's legs were severed below the knee. She was rushed by helicopter to the hospital where she endured many rounds of surgery. In an interview on Wednesday with the Tampa Bay Times, Nicole said her daughter doesn't yet understand her injury. "We were playing with Mr. Potato Head yesterday and taking the feet on and off. 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."
Reid says the family is doing "remarkably well and drawing on the support of the community." Donations to help defray the Nugent's medical costs and eventual prosthetics have been pouring in from around the world. He adds that Ireland's brothers and sisters have been experiencing a "wide variety of emotions. The second-youngest, who is five, was asking if her little sister's legs would grow back."
"The kids are all ready for us to be home," adds Nicole. "They miss their sister. We are a close family. Jerry and I had never been away from them for even a weekend and now it's been three weeks."
Although the two-year-old has been heavily medicated for pain, she's a bubbly presence in her hospital room with big blue eyes and dark blonde curls. Her mother entertains her with a plastic dolphin with a detachable prosthetic tail—a toy replica of "Winter," a miraculous animal housed at the nearby Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Her father administers physical therapy including rubbing the ends of her legs to help prevent "phantom limb" sensations that plague many amputees. "She's amazing," says Reid. "Ireland's going to grow up to do great things one day."
Visit the Facebook page set up by the Trinity Presbyterian Church for more information about how to help Ireland Nugent.