How Naomi Judd Is Helping Daughter Ashley Judd in Her Recovery From Leg Injury

Naomi Judd is dusting off some old skills while aiding in her daughter Ashley Judd's recovery from a "catastrophic" leg injury. Find out how the singer is helping the actress.

By Corinne Heller Mar 12, 2021 4:54 PMTags

Naomi Judd is helping to nurse her injured daughter Ashley Judd back to health, literally.

In an interview on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen on Thursday, March 11, the 75-year-old singer, a former ICU nurse and mother to both Ashley and Wynonna Judd, gave an update about the actress' recovery from a massive leg injury she had suffered in the Congo.

"She's very courageous and she's healing," Naomi told Andy Cohen. "It's really hard to see her like this. She lives next door, so I'm going to go up and take her stitches out when we're done because I used to be a nurse before I became a singer. Wynonna lives over the hill. Wynonna's right there."

In February, Ashley revealed in an Instagram Live video hosted by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof that she suffering a leg injury, shattering her tibia in four places, during an excursion on the Congo rainforest when she tripped over a log in the dark. 

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Speaking from a hospital bed in an ICU in a medical center in Johannesburg, South Africa, she recalled being stuck on the ground for five hours with a "badly misshapen leg," biting a stick because of pain and "howling like a wild animal." Ashley said her injury was a "catastrophic accident."

The actress later shared Instagram photos of two men carrying her to safety in a hammock. "Friends," she wrote. "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."

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Her mother Naomi is best known for her musical career—she and her eldest daughter Wynonna, 56, rose to fame in the '80s as the country music duo The Judds. But years earlier, she worked as a registered nurse at an ICU unit in a Tennessee hospital. Naomi was inspired to pursue nursing after the death of her teenage brother.

"I was 19 years old and my 17-year-old little brother died of Hodgkin's (lymphoma) and I felt so incredibly helpless," she said at the Texas Tech School of Nursing's 35th Anniversary Gala in 2016, according to The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "Nobody told us what was going on. He asked me one time if he was dying and I didn't know what to tell him. It was such an incredible trauma and tragedy to me that it was on a cellular memory that just got registered to me. I was born to do (nursing) because I had so much empathy and compassion for other people."

She left nursing in 1984 to concentrate on her music. But years later, she had to largely put her career aside after suffering her own major medical ailment. In 1990, Naomi was diagnosed with hepatitis C, which she contracted from an infected needle during her time at work as a nurse.

"When I was told I had Hepatitis C, I was on top of the world, selling out arenas," she said at an event at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey in 2016, according to The Daily Record newspaper in Morris County, NJ. "Then I was told I had three stinkin' years to live."

Watch: Ashley Judd Hospitalized in Africa After "Catastrophic" Leg Injury

Naomi underwent treatments for her ailment. She wrote in a 2014 Everyday Health essay that in 1995, a doctor proclaimed her cured of Hepatitis C. 

"I remember being in a hotel in New York City with my actress daughter Ashley when I received the call," she wrote. "When [the doctor] told me I was completely free of the virus Ashley and I began to cry and there was even a catch in his voice. Ashley and I walked down the street in New York City to Saint Patrick's Cathedral where we thanked God for such a miraculous cure."

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