Actress Ashley Judd has shared photos from the scene of the “catastrophic” leg injury she sustained after tripping over a fallen tree in a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The 52-year-old star took to Instagram to thank her rescuers, who carried her through the jungle on a hammock so she could be treated in ICU for the “massive catastrophic injury” to her leg, which is broken in four places with nerve damage.
The nightmare journey took a total of 55 hours, while the star was in agonising pain.
Among photos of Judd in the hammock and lying on the floor with a brace on her injured leg are snaps of her Congolese friends, who she says she would have died without given the extent of her internal bleeding.
“Friends. Without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me, and I would have lost my leg,” she began in the lengthy caption.
“I wake up weeping in gratitude, deeply moved by each person who contributed something life giving and spirit salving during my gruelling 55 hour odyssey.”
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The star explained that she had broken her leg in four places and suffered nerve damage. She also recounted her friend Dieumerci sitting with her for five hours keeping her “grossly misshapen left leg” from moving by propping it up using his own leg.
She then recalled another man, Papa Jean, arriving to reset her leg after he searched another five hours for her.
“He told me what he had to do. I bit a stick. I held onto Maud. 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,” recalled the De-Lovely actress.
“How he did that so methodically while I was like an animal is beyond me. He saved me. & he had to do this twice!”
Six men then situated the injured star in a hammock and “walked for 3 hours over rough terrain” to carry her out of the area and onto the back of a motorbike, where she was helped by two friends who held the bones in her leg together while they rode to the hospital.
Judd was taken to an ICU unit in South Africa on Saturday after suffering “massive catastrophic injuries” which could not be handled by the health system of the central African country.
At the time, she described the journey from the forest to hospital as “harrowing”.
She said she was “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.”
“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.
She said many Congolese people lacked access to “a simple pill to kill the pain when you’ve shattered a leg in four places and have nerve damage.”
Judd described what happened after she tripped over a tree, and endured “five hours of lying on the forest floor” until she was able to be evacuated.
She was in the company of a colleague, as she was “going into shock” and “passing out” from the agonising pain before someone arrived to set her leg for the journey to South Africa.
Judd said that she “will walk again” but doesn’t have a “time frame” for recovery.
The Double Jeopardy actress reportedly travels to the Congo about twice a year because her “life partner” runs a research camp there.