Teen survives being shot in the heart with a 3" nail - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Cape Girardeau, MO

Teen survives being shot in the heart with a 3" nail

Teen survives being shot in the heart with a 3" nail
By: CJ Cassidy

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Can you imagine getting shot in the heart - and then living to tell the tale? A 17-year-old from Dexter will be telling the story for years to come.

It turns out he survived because he left the nail in his heart until he got to the hospital. "I thought I was going to die," Matt Robinson says. You would too if you shot a nail through your heart.

Matt calls it an accident he'll never forget. "I was helping frame up a barn and the guy was lowering the gun down the ladder to me. The nail gun swung, my finger hit the trigger and it hit me in the chest," he explains.

The three and a quarter inch nail, went through Matt's right ventricle, and came out the other side.  "I dropped the gun and looked down and I could see the head of the nail stuck on the outside of my shirt. I wanted to take it out, but I was scared and didn't know what to think really," he says.

Had Matt pulled the nail out - the St. Louis doctor who performed heart surgery on him says he would have died. Dr. Hendrick Barner pulled the nail out about four hours after the accident. While inside, the nail acted like a plug - leaving no space for blood to seep out.

Still, the computer generated 3D images leave even technicians in shock. "It's the first time I've seen a foreign body through the heart and someone survived that, and was actually talking - it's surprising to us," one technician tells Heartland News.

"It was bad timing!" Matt's girlfriend, Brittany Morgan says. Pregnant with his twins, she can joke about the scare now - but at the time, the episode with the nail gun terrified her. "Everybody told me if it goes through your heart you die, so I was really scared," she says.

As for Matt - he's not giving up on his construction job just yet. "Construction's something I like to do -you get to do different stuff,' he says.

Amazingly, the accident happened on a Monday, Matt had surgery that day, and was up and walking by Wednesday.

So a remarkable recovery and an unbelievable story almost any way you look at it.

Matt's still on pain medication and will probably not be able to return to work for a couple of months. He says the next heart stopping moment he expects to have will be the birth of his twin babies in the next few days.

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