Ashley Judd Says Leg Didn’t Have a Pulse After Accident in the Congo

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  • Ashley Judd recently spoke about her “catastrophic” accident in the Congo rainforest last year.
  • The actor said when she arrived at the hospital in South Africa, her leg “didn’t have a pulse.”
  • Judd said if she had been transported to a European hospital, she would have “bled to death.”

In a new interview with podcast host Kate Roberts, Ashley Judd reflected on her “catastrophic” accident in the Congo last year.

The actor shattered her leg in four places and suffered nerve damage after tripping over a fallen tree during a trip to the Congolese rainforest in February 2021 where she was researching the endangered bonobo apes.

Speaking to Roberts on her podcast Sex, Body & Soul, Judd said, “I don’t know how the mind and the body and the soul come together to manage to endure the unendurable.”

“I bit a stick, I screamed, I howled, I convulsed,” she said. “I never did pass out — I wished that I could.”

A post shared by Ashley Judd (@ashley_judd)

The actor previously recounted her accident in an Instagram Live with The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof while recovering in a South African ICU.

She told Kristof that her headlamp “wasn’t working properly,” which caused her to trip over a fallen tree. “As I was breaking my leg, I knew it was being broken,” she said. “What was next was an incredibly harrowing 55 hours.”

This led to her laying on the rainforest floor for five hours, the actor said, with a “badly misshapen leg” and in severe pain.

Now, Judd went into more detail with Roberts on just how lucky she was and how close to death she may have been.

“I was in hospital in South Africa about nine days,” Judd explained. “And then I was medevaced to Tennessee. But when I got to South Africa my leg didn’t have a pulse and I was hemorrhaging, and if I had been medevaced to Europe, I would’ve bled to death.”

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd.

JP Yim/Getty Images


She told Roberts that the pain was endurable because “as animalistic as I was, my mind was pretty skilled.”

“It showed me that all the work I’ve done in the development of my


meditation

process and how hard I’ve tried to heal, that really was with me throughout those 55 hours,” she continued.

Judd said there was “a certain grace that stayed” with her and despite not having painkillers or any relief from the pain, she “was able to say please and thank you and may I have a drink of water, and I didn’t make it anybody else’s fault, and I didn’t take it out on the people around me.”

“I just had no expectations, and I knew that I could only do it one breath at a time,” she said.

You can listen to Judd’s full conversation with Roberts on her podcast Sex, Body & Soul here (the conversation starts around the 40-minute mark).

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