Ashley Judd Shares Photos from Her 'Grueling 55-Hour' Rescue After Shattering Her Leg in the Congo
"Without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me, and I would have lost my leg," the actress wrote on her Instagram
Ashley Judd is giving thanks to those who helped her after she injured herself in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On Tuesday, the 52-year-old actress shared photos from the harrowing experience — in which she shattered her leg while out in the jungle and ended up in an intensive care unit — on her Instagram, showing her appreciation to the locals who took care of her while she was in pain and helped transport her to safety.
"Friends. Without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me, and I would have lost my leg," she wrote in the caption, alongside photos and videos of her rescue. "I wake up weeping in gratitude, deeply moved by each person who contributed something life giving and spirit salving during my grueling 55 hour odyssey."
According to Judd, one of the locals who helped her a man named Dieumerci, who "stretched out his leg and put it under my grossly misshapen left leg to try to keep it still."
"It was broken in four places and had nerve damage," she recalled of her leg. "Dieumerci ('Thanks be to God') remained seated, without fidgeting or flinching, for 5 hours on the rain forest floor. He was with me in my primal pain. He was my witness."
Judd said another man named Papa Jean eventually found the pair following a five-hour search. By then, according to the actress, she was "wretched and wild on the ground" while Papa Jean examined her broken leg.
"He told me what he had to do. I bit a stick. I held onto Maud," Judd wrote. "And Papa Jean, with certainty began to manipulate and adjust my broken bones back into something like a position I could be transported in, while I screamed and writhed."
"How he did that so methodically while I was like an animal is beyond me," she continued. "He saved me. & he had to do this twice!"
Judd said six men then carried her out on an improvised hammock, walking "for 3 hours over rough terrain" to the nearest means of transportation.
From there, two men named Didier and Maradona rode with Judd on a motorbike for six hours.
"Didier and Maradona: Didier drove the motorbike. I sat facing backwards, his back my backrest," she recalled. "When I would begin to slump, to pass out, he would call to me to re-set my position to lean on him."
"Maradona rode on the very back of the motorbike, i faced him. He held my broken leg under the heel and I held the shattered top part together with my two hands," Judd wrote. "Together we did this for 6 hours on an irregular, rutted and pocked dirt road that has gullies for rain run off during the rainy season. Maradona was the only person to come forward to volunteer for this task."
In her Instagram post, which also included photos of the Judd also showed her appreciation for the women who "held" her while she was in agony.
"The women! My sisters who held me. They blessed me," Judd captioned the photos.
Speaking from her hospital bed with The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof for an Instagram Live session last week, Judd said she is "in an ICU trauma unit in beautiful South Africa, which has taken me in from the Congo: a country I deeply love, which is not, unfortunately, equipped to deal with massive catastrophic injuries like I have had."
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"And 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," added Judd.
According to the Divergent actress, she had broken her leg after faulty head lamp made it difficult for her to see during an outdoor excursion and she tripped over a fallen tree.
Sharing her experience, Judd said she recognizes her "privilege" in being able to pay for transportation following her accident.
Judd said she had spent a night "in a hut" in the city of Jolu, before being flown to the capital of Kinshasa to stay for 24 hours. She was eventually transported to South Africa to be treated in an ICU in that country.
"I'm in a lot of love. I'm in a lot of compassion and I'm in a lot of gratitude," the actress during the Instagram Live. "I thank everyone for their thoughts and their prayers and their support."