Man survives after being shot in the chest with a nail gun

A 47-year-old man was shot in the heart with a nail gun and survived. Doctors say everything down to the timing of his arrival at the hospital was done just right, and is the reason he is alive today.

The freak accident happened last month when the man was doing some frame work on his new home.

Paramedics said his body went into shock, and he was in and out of consciousness as he was transported to the Memorial Hermann Hospital in The Woodlands, a level II trauma center.

“The gun that I was using was caught on the board, so I went to move it around and when I did, it went off. I don’t know how but it hit me in the chest,” said Aaron, who did not want to use his last name.

When Aaron looked down, he realized that a three-inch nail had been shot through his chest, all he could see was the head.

“I thought in my head, I’m going to die probably,” Aaron said.  

The nail had pierced through a portion of his heart and one of his main arteries.

His wife Liz works as a trauma nurse at Memorial Hermann and received the call that her husband was on his way.

“As soon as I hung up the phone I kind of lost it. I was at work,” Liz said.

“It's probably one of my biggest fears I’ve ever had-- was for it to be somebody that I care a lot about. To be the next person coming in. We didn’t know how severe his injury was. I was scared,” Liz said.

But in that moment, Aaron made a decision that may have saved his life.

“Something told me to pull the nail, which I've always heard. If something's in you, leave it in. And something just told me to pull it,” Aaron said.

Dr. Timothy Hodges was on the surgeons that performed emergency open-heart surgery on Aaron. He referred to the move as “stupid luck.”

“Generally you don’t want to pull the nail out but the way the nail was, it was preventing the artery from clotting which is what it needed to do by pulling it out. It probably slowed the bleeding down significantly.

“The blood was trapped around the heart and luckily he got here in enough time to where we could evacuate it before something really terrible happened.

“The thing is, he didn’t have a lot of blood, it was just a lot in a place that can’t tolerate a lot of blood. So it wasn’t a lot of blood there but it was compressing down on the heart, preventing it from pumping and getting blood to the rest of the body,” said Dr. Hodges.  

A month after the freak accident, Aaron's almost back to normal.     

He now has a 12-inch scar down his chest and a souvenir kept safe in a Ziploc bag.

Aaron has apparently done carpentry work for the last 30 years and that particular nail gun is a reliable tool he's had and used for more than 20 years.