Movie star and activist Ashley Judd is recovering after a harrowing incident in the African jungle. Judd, doing work in the Congo, shared on Friday that she was injured after a “catastrophic” fall that nearly resulted in her leg being amputated to save her life.
Judd mentioned the leg injury in parenthesis in an Instagram post on Friday that was a photo of a bonobo monkey.
“I am a woman of the wilderness, as you know. Accidents do happen. I struck something in the dark and fell,” Judd wrote. “I will talk with @nickkristof at 9 am ET about this catastrophic accident (I nearly lost my leg) and what it means to be Congolese in extreme poverty with no access to health care, any medication for pain, any type of service, or choices.”
According to Deadline, she discussed the injury during an Instagram Live interview from her hospital bed. Judd, who often works in the Congo to track bonobos, an endangered ape species, said while walking in the rainforest, she tripped and fell over a fallen tree, shattering her leg in the process.
What followed was “an incredibly harrowing 55 hours” where Judd was transported to South Africa, where she needed surgery to save the limb.
Describing “an incredibly harrowing 55 hours” during which she was transported, in part by being hand-carried out, in part on a six-hour motorbike trip, from the remote rainforest location to a medical center in South Africa, Judd holds up the stick that she was biting to distract from the pain, “howling like a wild animal.” The actress, sister of Wynona Judd and daughter of Naomi Judd, recalls fading in and out of consciousness as she went into shock, repeatedly reciting “the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want” from Psalm 23.
Judd tells Kristof that despite the pain – “at the very edge of my edge” – and fear, she was fully aware of her “privilege” in having the opportunity to transfer to a fully equipped medical facility. Most Congolese people, she says, would have remained in the village, lost the leg and maybe a their life.
Judd said she wanted to share the story to show the disparity between healthcare for others in the Congo and what Americans and others around the world can get. You can watch the full Instagram Live video below.