| 12.7°C Belfast

Wisconsin man drove to hospital with nail in his heart


Mr Bergeson drove himself to hospital after the nail lodged in his heart (Donna Bergeson/AP)

Mr Bergeson drove himself to hospital after the nail lodged in his heart (Donna Bergeson/AP)

Mr Bergeson drove himself to hospital after the nail lodged in his heart (Donna Bergeson/AP)

Doctors said a Wisconsin man came perilously close to death after accidentally shooting a nail into his heart while working on his house - before driving himself to hospital and walking into the emergency room.

Doug Bergeson, 52, is ready to return to work this week after surviving the accident on June 25.

Mr Bergeson said he was working on framing in a fireplace at his house near Peshtigo in north-east Wisconsin when his nail gun accidentally fired, sending a nail ricocheting off some wood and into his chest.

He said: "I thought it just nicked me. I looked down. I couldn't see anything.

"I felt OK. I wasn't worried about the injury. I couldn't feel any pressure or blood building up."

As he tugged at his sweatshirt, Mr Bergeson said he realised only about 1in of the 3.5in nail was sticking out of his chest.

"I could see the nail moving with my heartbeat. It was kind of twitching with every heartbeat," he said.

"I was frustrated because I knew I wasn't going to get home until late and I couldn't get anything done."

Mr Bergeson added that "common sense" told him not to pull the nail out.

He drove to Bay Area Medical Centre in Marinette, about 10 minutes away. After parking his truck and walking into ER, Mr Bergeson said he started to feel more pain and summoned a security guard for help.

He told the guard: "If you could find someone that would be great, I'm just going to sit down."

Still thinking he would soon be on his way home after a little medical attention, Mr Bergeson texted his wife, Donna, to bring him a new shirt because medical staff had cut off the one he was wearing.

After X-rays were taken, Mr Bergeson was rushed by ambulance to Aurora BayCare Medical Centre in Green Bay.

"I offered to drive myself, but they wouldn't let me," he joked.

Dr Alexander Roitstein confirmed the nail hit Mr Bergeson's heart, a 16th of an inch from a major artery. He said it was difficult to assess how deeply the nail penetrated, but it left bruising and a hole in the heart.

He commended Mr Bergeson for not pulling the nail out and letting doctors handle it.

"It shows the great composure this gentleman had after a very bad day's experience."

Mr Bergeson spent just two days in hospital and has been recovering at home since the incident.

He finally will be able to return to work this week at the Village of Lena waterworks plant. He also has a vegetable farm and construction repair business.

"I feel pretty good. I'm back to doing things carefully," he said.

"It was a pretty awakening experience."