Actress and activist Ashley Judd was rushed to an ICU unit in South Africa on Saturday, February 13 after sustaining a harrowing injury that left her leg broken in four places.
The incident occurred while she was on a research project on bonobos, a species of endangered primates in the Congo. She had fallen over a tree in the path and badly injured herself.
It took a gruelling 55 hours for her to be rescued, but her leg was saved thanks to the help of her “Congolese brothers and sisters”. Taking to Instagram. Judd shared images and an inside look into the rescue mission.
“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 salving during my grueling 55 hour odyssey,” she wrote.
One man named Dieumerci stretched out his leg and put it under hers to try to keep it still. He remained seated, without fidgeting or flinching, for five hours on the rain forest floor.
She was discovered after five hours by a man she called Papa Jean.
“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.”
Six men carefully moved her into a hammock and then carried her and walked for three hours over rough terrain before they got on a motorbike to take her to a trauma unit.
“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,” Judd recalled.
She also thanked the women who held and blessed her.
The actress and activist often visits parts of Africa to raise issues of poverty and animal protection.
During a live stream, she acknowledged that she was in a privileged position to receive relatively swift medical care, as many others in her position would not have had the same access.