Ashley Judd 'Had No Pulse' in Her Shattered Leg After 55-Hour Rescue in the Congo
After the 52-year-old actress made it out of the jungle in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where she had tripped over a fallen tree during a visit to see the endangered bonobos monkeys, she was flown to Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa for surgery.
"I arrived to them from DRC in terrible shape and my leg had no pulse," Judd wrote. "I desperately needed a blood transfusion. Their sisters (nurses) are exemplary, technically top notch, and they cared for the trauma in my body as well as my soul with equal proficiency."
Judd said the staff had to make "split second decisions upon my arrival" to figure out how to care for her significant injury. Her surgeon, Dr. Eugene Greeff, "was super at stabilizing my leg with the external fixator until the massive soft tissue damage and swelling went down so that I could have the Big Operation."
"What he did was significant and I am forever in his debt," she said, adding that this all happened as South African hospitals were dealing with the COVID B.1.351 strain, a new, faster-spreading variant of COVID-19 that has worried health experts worldwide.
The Double Jeopardy star said that her father, Michael Ciminella, has already received his COVID-19 vaccine and was able to fly out to Johannesburg after she sent "the text no parent ever wants: 'emergency, can't answer questions, please come now.' " Once she was able, Judd and her dad made a 22-hour journey, consisting of four different flights, back to the U.S. "thanks to unbelievably efficient disaster travel insurance on an Air Ambulance."
Once in an American hospital, Judd said, "I had to continue to wait for the tissue damage and swelling to reduce. Eventually I was qualified to have the 8-hour surgery to repair the bones, decompress the hemorrhaging nerve and pick the shards of bones out of the nerve. I am now recovering from surgery."
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Judd, who said she is "now up and around," thanked everyone who helped her through this part of her journey — from the "exemplary" nurses in Johannesburg, to Greeff, to the hospital management and to her father.
"He has been my rock, companion, resource, helped me listen to so many doctors, critical support system, and kind, loving presence as I have wept and wept," she said of her dad, who is in one of the pictures she shared. "I'm very thankful to all of the experts, including that expert pictured, my Pop, who is rubbing my foot to remind my foot while it still cannot move that it is connected to my body."
Judd finished her post by pointing out that not everyone is as fortunate to have the care she received.
"Let us always remember those without insurance," she said. "Let us remember those who do not have choices. Let us remember those who are lonely and afraid."