Ashley Judd provides health updates, thanks hospital staff after shattering leg in rainforest

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Charles Trepany, USA TODAY
·4 min read
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Ashley Judd is expressing gratitude to those who helped treat her broken leg.

On Tuesday, Judd, who is "now recovering from surgery," provided an update on her health a week after she shared a harrowing story of tripping over a fallen tree and seriously injuring her right leg. Judd said she was deep in the rainforest to research endangered bonobo apes.

"I want to give my deepest and most vulnerable thanks to Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, for making split second decisions upon my arrival," she wrote in a lengthy Instagram post.

"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."

Her Instagram post included a series of photos and videos documenting her procedure in the hospital and featured those she was thankful for: her surgeon, the nurses and her father.

"Dr Greef, pictured, was super at stabilizing my leg with the external fixator until the massive soft tissue damage and swelling went down so that I could have the Big Operation. What he did was significant and I am forever in his debt."

Judd also thanked her father, whom she praised for traveling to South Africa on her behalf and who "helped me listen to so many doctors."

"He has been my rock, companion, resource," she wrote. In the last photo, her father is seen rubbing her foot, which Judd says was "to remind my foot while it still cannot move that it is connected to my body."

To conclude her post, she reassured fans that she is "up and around already," and thanked supporters for their "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."

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On Feb. 17, Judd first shared photos from her "grueling 55 hour odyssey."

"Friends. Without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me, and I would have lost my leg," she captioned her Instagram slideshow.

Judd said a man named Papa Jean found her "wretched and wild on the ground" following a five-hour search after her fall. The actress said he "calmly assessed" her before immobilizing her limb for transport out of the rainforest.

"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," she recalled. "He saved me. & he had to do this twice!"

The Instagram slideshow included pictures of Judd being carried through the rainforest in a makeshift stretcher fashioned out of a hammock. She explained, "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."

Another snapshot showed Judd being transported on the back of a motor bike by two men named Didier and Maradona, who Judd said was the "only person to come forward to volunteer."

She also shared several photos of herself being comforted by local women, who she said "held me" and "blessed me" during the traumatic ordeal.

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Ashley Judd is opening up about her harrowing experience after shattering her leg in an African rainforest.
Ashley Judd is opening up about her harrowing experience after shattering her leg in an African rainforest.

The actress first discussed the injury with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, appearing remotely from an ICU trauma unit in South Africa.

Judd shared what it was like lying in agony for hours.

"I'm going into shock," she recalled. "I'm passing out... and all I can do is narrate and say, 'The pain is really bad right now. My teeth are chattering. I'm in a cold sweat. I think I'm gonna vomit. Can I have some water? The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.' And I believe that God is with us in our suffering."

Eventually, Judd made it to an operating table in South Africa – something she knows is not afforded to most people who live in the Congo.

"Another Congolese person, this would have been the end of their options," Judd said. "That would have been the end of their leg and probably their life."

According to Judd, it's going to take time and intensive physical therapy to heal her leg.

"Of course, I will walk again, because I'm determined, and I believe in modern science, and I also believe in miracles, but there's not really a time frame for when I'm gonna be bipedal," she said.

Contributing: Cydney Henderson, Jenna Ryu

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ashley Judd shares update after shattering leg in African rainforest