Ashley Judd's Congo Accident Results in 'Catastrophic' Leg Injury

Actress Ashley Judd suffered a "catastrophic" leg injury while visiting a rainforest in Africa's Congo region and is still being treated in a South Africa ICU trauma unit. The animal rights activist shared her harrowing story during an Instagram Live session with The New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof, speaking from her hospital bed. Judd was taken to South Africa because she did not have access to the kind of medication and care she needed for her injury in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Judd told Kristoff she was speaking from "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." She went on to explain 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," notes PEOPLE. The Congolese do not have access to even a "simple pill" that would "kill the pain" of her injury, Judd said. She shattered her leg in four places and suffered nerve damage.

The accident happened when Judd tripped over a fallen tree. She could not see ahead of her very well since the headlamp she was using was faulty. The first 55 hours after the accident was "incredibly harrowing," she said. She laid on the forest floor for five hours with a colleague nearby before she was taken from the scene. Someone reset her bones while Judd was "going into shock" and passed out from the pain.

Next, the Congolese members of her team took her back to their camp, with her in a hammock. She was then driven on a motorcycle for six hours to her next destination, with one person driving and another person holding her leg up. She spent that night in the city of Jolu, then flew to the capital of Kinshasa. She stayed there for another day before she was taken to South Africa to be treated there.

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Before her interview with Kristoff, Judd wrote about the experience on her own Instagram page, revealing that she almost lost her leg. She decided to share the entire story to show her followers "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." The Divergent star, who has traveled to Africa in the past, used her platform to raise awareness of the situation for the Bonobos and the people who live in the Congo rainforest. "Please join us and learn what it is like for much of the world - and how you can help," she wrote. "Bonobos matter. And so do the people in whose ancestral forest they range and the other 25,600,000 Congolese in need of humanitarian assistance."