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Ashley Judd had no pulse in leg when she arrived at hospital with ‘catastrophic’ injuries

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Ashley Judd in hospital
Ashley is recovering from surgery (Picture: Instagram)

Ashley Judd is recovering from surgery, after shattering her leg in four places while trekking in a Congolese rainforest.

The Kiss the Girls actress is back in the United States after being brought to hospital in South Africa following a 55-hour journey from the forest, where she suffered ‘catastrophic’ injuries.

The 52-year-old previously revealed she could have lost her leg or even died if she hadn’t been helped to safety by the Congolese locals, and now she has shared that her leg didn’t have a pulse when she arrived at the hospital in Johannesburg.

Ashley shared a post thanking all the staff at Sunninghill Hospital for ‘making split second decisions’ when she arrived from Congo. 

She wrote: ‘I arrived to them from DRC in terrible shape and my leg had no pulse. I desperately needed a blood transfusion. Their sisters (nurses) are exemplary, technically top notch, and they cared for the trauma in my body as well as my soul with equal proficiency.’

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Ashley said she was forever in Dr Greef’s debt after he stabilished her leg ‘with the external fixator until the massive soft tissue damage and swelling went down so that I could have the Big Operation’.

The actress also thanked her father Michael, who flew to South Africa after receiving a text reading ‘emergency, can’t answer questions, please come now’.

She wrote: ‘He has been my rock, companion, resource, helped me listen to so many doctors, critical support system, and kind, loving presence as I have wept and wept. We then made the 22 hour – 4 flights – to America thanks to unbelievably efficient disaster travel insurance on an Air Ambulance. 

‘In an American hospital, I had to continue to wait for the tissue damage and swelling to reduce. Eventually I was qualified to have the 8-hour surgery to repair the bones, decompress the haemorrhaging nerve and pick the shards of bones out of the nerve. I am now recovering from surgery.

‘I’m very thankful to all of the experts, including that expert pictured, my Pop, who is rubbing my foot to remind my foot while it still cannot move that it is connected to my body. I am up and around already. Thank you for your care and kind words.  Let us always remember those without insurance.  Let us remember those who do not have choices. Let us remember those who are lonely and afraid.’

Ashley suffered her horrific injuries when she tripped over a fallen tree, after a faulty lamp made it difficult for her to see during an outdoor excursion.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chelsea Lauren/REX (9446174mj) Ashley Judd 90th Annual Academy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 04 Mar 2018
The star does conservation work and research in Congo (Picture: Chelsea Lauren/REX)

After her bones were manipulated into a position she could be transported in, she was carried through the forest in a hammock by two locals, who then drove her for six hours out of the forest.

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Ashley spent 24 hours in Kinshaha before being flown to South Africa to be rushed into intensive care.

Speaking to New York Times journalist Nick Kristof earlier this month, the Divergent star explained that the facilities in Congo were not equipped to deal with ‘massive, catastrophic injuries’ like the one she had sustained on her leg. 

ashley_judd 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 salving during my grueling 55 hour odyssey. Here are some of their stories. Dieumerci 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. 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. 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. He saved me. & he had to do this twice! 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. 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. Maradona was the only person to come forward to volunteer for this task. 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! The women! My sisters who held me. They blessed me.
Ashley praised the Congolese locals for taking her to safety (Picture: Ashley Judd/Instagram

Ashley said that the widespread poverty in Congo means people often do not have running water or electricity, let alone ‘a simple pill to kill the pain when you’ve shattered a leg in four places and have nerve damage’. 

She said: ‘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.’ 

Ashley was in Congo doing conservation work and researching bonobos in the wild, with her and her partner visiting the region twice a year.

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