Minn. man shoots self in heart with nail gun -- and lives

The luckiest man in Minnesota, if not America and the rest of the world, is a 58-year-old self-employed carpenter named Eugene Rakow, who shot a nail into his heart while working on a job and lived to tell about it.

On September 27, Rakow was building a deck for a neighbor when he fired the three-and-a-half inch nail into his chest.

"As soon as it hit me, I knew I was in trouble, and I thought man I gotta get some place and get help, fast," Rakow told MyFoxTwinCities.com.

Rakow, did not call 911, but instead was driven to Abbot Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis by his wife Carmen.

Hospital heart surgeon Dr. Louis Louis said that the nail actually into Rakow's heart twice, but the patient was saved by the design of the nail and a little bit of luck.

"The sternum acted like a 2x4 in that it caught the nail and prevented the nail from going any deeper," Louis said, adding that the nail stopped just two millimeters short of the coronary artery, the puncturing of which would have likely killed Rakow on the spot.

"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," Louis said.

Rakow is currently recovering at home with Carmen and his seven children. A benefit fund for the family has been set up to keep them going while Rakow stays off his feet.

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