Ashley Judd Shares Some Traumatic Photos Of Her Rescue In Africa

Ashley Judd has revealed she could have died or lost her leg if “heroes” hadn’t saved her in the jungle. Judd posted a lengthy statement to Instagram on Feb. 16, 2021 in which she described a “grueling 55 hour odyssey” across the Congo after injuring herself on an expedition last week. She began her caption with: “Friends. Without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me, and I would have lost my leg.”

The “harrowing” story — which sounds like a film Judd herself would star in — saw the Hollywood actress break her leg in four different places and suffer nerve damage after tripping over a fallen tree. Per Page Six, Judd was conducting fieldwork as part of a research camp on bonobos when a faulty headlamp impaired her vision. She was later hospitalized in the ICU.

While explaining the ordeal, in which she spent five hours in “primal pain” on the rainforest floor, Judd showed gratitude to “each person who contributed something life giving and spirit salving” as she revealed her heartwarming story with Congolese locals on Instagram.

Ashley Judd said it took three days to get her to an ICU

Ashley Judd made special mention on Instagram of several specific people who she was “blessed” with on her three-day journey to safety. Judd began by thanking a man named Dieumerci, who allowed her to rest her “grossly misshapen” left leg on him for five hours to keep it still. “He was with me in my primal pain. He was my witness,” Judd wrote. A man who found her several hours later, Papa Jean, then assessed her leg and adjusted the bones into a safer position for transport while she “screamed” and “writhed.” She said: “How he did that so methodically while I was like an animal is beyond me. He saved me. & he had to do this twice!”

A group of men then carried Judd in a hammock for three hours before transporting her on a motorbike for six hours on a “rutted” and “pocked” dirt road. She called both the driver, Didier, and the man who held her, Maradona, her “heroes.” Judd concluded her terrifying tale by thanking the women who comforted her as she spent the night at a hut in Jolu before flying onto an ICU unit in South Africa, per People. “The women! My sisters who held me. They blessed me,” she wrote. 

Judd’s post included several pictures of her traveling through the Congolese rainforest with her shattered leg — as well as a few smiling individual shots of her rescuers.

Ashley Judd said she recognizes her 'privilege' in the Congo

Ashley Judd is well-known for her humanitarian work and feminist advocacy, and she has visited the Congo on numerous occasions where she’s advocated for female education (per Women for Women International) and raised awareness about mineral-fueled violence (per CNN). But this recent trip may have hit home more so than others, as Judd explained in an Instagram Live that she was able to receive the emergency medical support that she did due to her position of financial “privilege,” per People

Speaking with Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times while recovering in an ICU trauma unit in South Africa, Judd said Congo — “a country I deeply love” — was not equipped to deal with “catastrophic injuries.” She also revealed civilians don’t have access to pain killers. “The difference between a Congolese person and me is disaster insurance that allowed me 55 hours after my accident to get to an operating table in South Africa,” she said. 

While it’s unclear when Judd may return home to the U.S., she said she’s feeling “a lot of gratitude.” She said, “I’m in a lot of love. I’m in a lot of compassion and I’m in a lot of gratitude… I thank everyone for their thoughts and their prayers and their support.”

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