Dennis Hennis, a 52-year-old self-employed builder, was working on his neighbour’s roof when his nail gun jammed and he tried to clear it.
The nail pierced the right side of his heart and he went into cardiac arrest.
His surgeon credited Mr Hennis’ recovery to prompt medical attention and knowing that he should not remove the nail himself.
Mr Hennis told Dr Michael Rosenbloom that it felt like he had won the lottery.
“I got a new grandson on my birthday on March 23 and a week later I’m almost dead,” Mr Hennis said. “Now we can celebrate birthdays together.”
He was airlifted to trauma centre an hour away in Camden, New Jersey, and went under immediate surgery.
“Imagine there is a nail in the heart and they have to do CPR [cardio-pulmonary resuscitation],” Dr Rosenbloom said. “It turns a little puncture wound into a laceration.”
Mr Hennis expects to be discharged in time to celebrate Easter with his family.