Girl who lost feet to riding mower heading home

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TAMPA, Florida (WFLA) — Ireland Nugent has spent three weeks at Tampa General Hospital.

The 2-year-girl has endured seven surgeries and one major setback. Last week, doctors found an infection in one of her legs and she had to have a skin graft. But her father, Jerry Nugent, is finally feeling optimistic about her future.

“I’m excited and scared, all in one,” he said outside Tampa General Hospital.

Jerry Nugent said Ireland should be released from TGH this weekend. He and his wife, Nicole, are learning to change Ireland’s bandages, so they can care for her when she returns home. Jerry said Ireland smiles when they talk about going home.

“She’s very happy, you know. That’s what I love to see, because it brings me out of my funk,” he said.

Nugent’s funk is understandable. In April, he was mowing the lawn outside the family’s Palm Harbor home. He didn’t know Ireland was behind the lawn mower when he backed up, and severed her feet at the ankles. He said it’s been difficult to explain what happened to Ireland.

“She’s still very young, so she’s not grasping it totally,” he said. “When she asks about her limbs, we just say you’re going to have new feet, just like Winter the dolphin.”

Ireland received a toy of Winter, the dolphin that has a prosthetic tail. The Nugents are trying to use that to teach Ireland.

They’re looking forward to going home. Jerry Nugent said Ireland could be fitted for new feet in three to four weeks, something he’s looking forward to.

“Getting her new legs, watching her walk again,” he said. “It’s something I’m really looking forward to.”

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