Eugene Rakow, a self-employed carpenter from St Bonifacius, was working on his neighbour's deck last week when the nail gun kicked back and the 3.5-inch nail pierced his chest.
"I was leaning against a board with the gun. I had the gun at an angle, chest level, and it jumped and I still had my hand on the trigger. It impaled the nail in my chest," Rakow said. "I could feel it gurgle a little, crunch a little. I knew it wasn't good," he told Star Tribune.
The father of seven ran to his truck and phoned his wife, Carmen Rakow, who drove him to the hospital. The doctors said Rakow "was extremely lucky, first that he was able to get to a hospital and second that the nail missed the coronary artery by about 2 millimetres twice - going in and going out," said a spokeswoman for Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, where Rakow was treated.
"The sternum also acted as a 2-by-4 and stopped the nail from going in deeper than it did. In the end, [the doctor] put two stitches in the heart," she said. Rakow was discharged two days later and is taking some months off work.