A Wisconsin man who was working to build a house accidentally shot himself in the heart with a nail gun, and went to the hospital alone.

Doug Bergeson said he was working at the fireplace for a house he was building near Peshtigo when he got a shot from his nail gun and he had a 9 cm nail in his heart.

“I was moving the nail gun and I had it on my fingertips and there was no space, and I fired before I was ready, and then it fell and fired again,” he said. “I did not feel pain, I only felt a sting. I looked down and saw nothing, but then I put my hand down and … it wasn’t good!,” Bergeson recalled. “When I saw that it moved to the rhythm of my heart, I said to myself … I will not be able to work today! So, I went to the emergency room,” he continues. “It seemed like the right thing to do! I felt good, apart from a bit ‘too much iron in my diet,” jokes now the man.

Bergeson said the wound began to ache when he finished his 12-mile journey to the Bay Area Medical Center emergency room in Marinette. The hospital immediately transferred Bergeson to the BayCare Medical Center, where the cardiothoracic surgeon Alexander Roitstein underwent surgery to remove the nail. “A wrong heartbeat, a wrong position and it would have been a much worse problem than it was,” Roitstein said. “He was very lucky from this point of view”. Bergeson said the doctors explained that the nail was about the distance of the thickness of a sheet of paper from a main artery in his heart. 

The episode is an important lesson for those in emergency situations. When you are hit by an object, and you suspect that it is in an “at risk” area, do not try to remove it yourself, because the object itself tends to stop possible bleeding, and instead seek medical assistance immediately. “It was very smart not to remove the nail” said Dr. Roitstein. 

Dr. Roitstein said that Bergeson will heal completely, with only a scar to remember the incident. Bergeson’s is not the first case of such accidents with a nail gun: in 2013, a man had survived a very similar incident , but in that case an ambulance had intervened to take him to the hospital.