Daily Briefing Blog

Carpenter shoots himself in the heart with nail gun—and lives


Hanna Jaquith, Daily Briefing

It's not a tale for the faint of heart: Eugene Rakow was building a deck for a neighbor when the nail gun kicked back, hit him in the chest, and fired a 3-and-a-half inch spike through his sternum.

At first, the injury didn't feel "that bad," the 58-year-old carpenter from Minnesota told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. But then, "Your body kind of goes into shock. … I could feel it gurgle a little, crunch a little. I knew it wasn't good."

Rakow phoned his wife of 25 years, who drove him to nearby Waconia Hospital. He was transferred to Abbott Northwestern Hospital, where heart surgeon Louis Louis was amazed by what he saw: The nail had pierced Rakow's heart not once, but twice, coming within two millimeters of a coronary artery. Any closer would have meant death on the spot, Louis said.

The nail design, however, is likely what saved Rakow's life: "The sternum acted like a two-by-four in that it caught the nail and prevented the nail from going any deeper," Louis told MyFoxTwinCities.com, adding, "Once we were able to get a hold of it, we were able to work it out very carefully and then it was a simple two stitches to repair the injury in the heart."

Two days later, Rakow was sent home to his wife and seven kids. He will require six weeks off from work to recover from the heart puncture.

"The surgeon said I ought to buy a lottery ticket, [h]e said you've got to be the luckiest man alive," he later recounted to KARE 11.



Join the discussion

Please log in to comment.
Close

Forgot your password?


Not an Advisory Board Member? Click here to register

Close

Members please Log In

LOG IN

Forgot your password?


Not an Advisory Board Member? Click here to register

From the archives

Physicians: We're optimistic about teen with spear through brain

After a freak accident with a spear gun left a teenager in critical condition, surgeons from the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Army Trauma Training Center say the 16-year-old boy is on a path toward "miraculous recovery."


Surgeons remove pencil from man's skull—15 years later

German doctors at a medical conference this week said they removed a four-inch pencil from a 24-year-old man's skull in 2011—finally relieving him of 15 years' worth of relentless headaches and worsening vision problems.

Popular on the blog

Five goofy glitches in the Obamacare exchanges

We've focused on the glitches in the ACA's new health insurance websites. But what do the glitches look like? Here are five of the more unusual broken pages we stumbled across.