Ashley Judd recently shared photos on Instagram from a harrowing experience during which she suffered a broken leg in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and had her leg, if not her life, saved by a string of kind acts by Congolese people.
Judd and her partner were with a team of researchers studying bonobo apes when she tripped over a fallen tree in a rainforest.
"Without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me, and I would have lost my leg," Judd wrote. "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."
Her Instagram post told the stories of several good samaritans involved in her rescue:
"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!"
During an Instagram Live session last week with the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Judd revealed 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 Divergent star admits her privilege, telling Kristof that "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."