Saturday, February 27

Ashley Judd Shares Pics From 'Grueling 55-Hour' Rescue After Injury in Congo


Ashley Judd is feeling thankful after shattering her leg in the African jungle.

The actress, 52, shared a series of pics snapped as she was being rescued via Instagram on Tuesday, February 16, detailing the frightening experience for her followers.

“Friends. Without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me and I would have lost my leg. I wake up weeping in gratitude, deeply moved by each person who contributed something life giving and spirit saving during my grueling 55 hour odyssey,” Judd began. “Here are some of their stories. Dieumerci stretched out his leg and put it under my grossly misshapen left leg to try and keep it still. It was broken in four places and had nerve damage.”

The All That is Bitter and Sweet author continued: “Dieumerci (‘Thanks be to God’) remained seated, without fidgeting for 5 hours on the rain forest floor. He was with my in my primal pain. He was my witness. Papa Jean: it took 5 hours, but eventually he found me, wretched and wild on the ground, and calmly assessed my broken leg. 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. How he did that so methodically while I was like an animal is beyond me.”

Judd credited Papa Jean with keeping her alive, noting, “He had to do this twice!”

She went on to share: “The six men who carefully moved me into the hammock with as little jostling as possible, who then walked for 3 hours over rough terrain carrying me out. Heros [sic]. Didier and Maradona: Didier drove the motorbike. I sat facing backwards, his back my backrest. 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. 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.”

The Divergent star revealed in her post that no one else would volunteer for the job. She said of Maradona, “We have a nice friendship, discussing the pros and cons of polygamy and monogamy. I show two pictures, one in his hat and one in mine, which he dearly covets!”

Judd then recalled the many women in Congo who also came to her aid.

“The women! My sisters who held me. They blessed me,” she wrote.

The Star Trek: The Next Generation alum acknowledged her “privilege” through the whole experience, recalling spending a night “in a hut” in the Congolese city of Jolu before flying to Kinshasa and, eventually, South Africa to be treated in an intensive care unit.

“I’m in a lot of love. I’m in a lot of compassion and I’m in a lot of gratitude,” she told fans during an Instagram Live last week. “I thank everyone for their prayers and their support.

Judd first revealed her injuries on Friday, February 12, during an Instagram Live with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. She said at the time she was visiting the Congo with a team of researchers examining bonobo apes when she fell while walking through the rainforest.

“I was doing what I always do, [got] up at 4:30 in the morning with two of our trackers … my headlamp had new batteries but it was a little faint, it wasn’t working quite properly,” she explained. “Accidents happen and there was a fallen tree on the path, which I didn’t see. I had a very powerful stride going and I just fell over this tree.”

Scroll through the gallery below to see more from her time in Congo.

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Thankful

Days after she fell and broke her leg in the rainforest, Judd sent a message of thanks to the Congolese people who helped rescue her and get her to safety.

Courtesy of Ashley Judd/Instagram

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Lucky to be Alive

The actress shared multiple photos from her 55-hour journey from the rainforest to the hospital.

Courtesy of Ashley Judd/Instagram

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Grateful for Friends

After sitting on the rainforest floor in pain for five hours with only the leg of a guide to brace her badly broken limb, Judd said she was loaded onto a hammock and carried out by a group of brave friends she met during her time in Africa.

Courtesy of Ashley Judd/Instagram

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On the Road to Recovery

Among the people who helped rescue Judd was a man she called Papa Jean, who helped reset her leg. 

Courtesy of Ashley Judd/Instagram

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Safe and Sound

Judd named several Congolese people who helped get her out of the rainforest and off to safety, including Dieumerci, who sat with her while they awaited help; Papa Jean, who reset her leg; and Didier and Maradona, who drove her to safety on a motorbike when no one else wanted to.

Courtesy of Ashley Judd/Instagram

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Girl Power

The author also thanked all the Congolese women she encountered along the way who embraced her while she was suffering.

Courtesy of Ashley Judd/Instagram

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Teamwork

Judd revealed that she got out of the jungle and into the city on a motorbike, holding her broken leg with the help of two Congolese men named Didier and Maradona. One drove the bike while the other helped her hold her leg steady as they drove.

Courtesy of Ashley Judd/Instagram



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