SAFETY HARBOR (FOX 13) - After her young daughter Ireland lost both legs in a tragic accident, Nicole Nugent shared with supporters on Saturday that she, too, is losing a leg.
Five years ago, Ireland Nugent lost both of her legs below the knee at the age of 2 in a lawn mower accident. The now 7-year-old Pinellas County girl is growing and thriving, participating in multiple activities, including cheerleading.
Through the "Ireland Nugent Family Support Page" on Facebook, Nicole Nugent, 35, surprised many supporters when she wrote, in part, "Due to the severe case of osteomyelitis in my right lower leg, the doctors have decided amputations is the best lifesaving option."
Family friend Steve Chamberland said Nugent has been battling a health issue for nearly a year. She called him to share the news of her upcoming amputation.
"I know she had an infection. She's been fighting that infection forever, for a while now, but I know it just got worse and worse," said Chamberland.
Nugent said it was during a trip to California last October that a cut on her foot became infected after she got in the water with Ireland during an event for 'challenged' athletes.
She wrote, "The water was contaminated with seal [waste]. There was a sign of high bacteria. I tested nature. It won."
Ten surgeries later, Nugent said 90 percent of the bone in her right foot is gone. Amputation is needed to stop the infection from spreading.
"Uncle Steve" Chamberland, as Ireland calls him, has stepped in to pay for the child's prosthetic legs every year after her accident through his organization 50 Legs. He said he will be there for Nicole Nugent's surgery and already has plans to pay for her first prosthetic leg.
A portion of the money will come from a $10,000 check 50 Legs was recently awarded on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Nugent said on Facebook that her surgery, scheduled for Monday at Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, was delayed due to an ER backup. It has been rescheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday.