Nail gun survivor talks exclusively with Action News

April 6, 2012 5:25:32 AM PDT
A New Jersey man is lucky to be alive, and his story is one that may make you cringe.

With a name like Dennis Hennis, the Vineland, N.J. man has many funny stories.

"Dennis the Menance; you hear all the good stuff," said Hennis.

But there is nothing funny about the story he told exclusively to Action News.

On Saturday, the 52 year old self employed builder was doing some work on a neighbor's roof near South Mill Road when his nail gun jammed.

"Like I've done a hundred times before, just undo it. But it wasn't doing so well, and I had turned it a little too far, and pop, it felt like someone poked me right in the chest," explained Hennis.

A three and a half inch nail shot right into his chest, hitting the right side of his heart. Hennis held on to part of the nail as he waited for paramedics to rush him to the hospital.

Hennis would have been flown to Cooper University Hospital if it wasn't for the fog, but he was taken by ambulance, and had to be resuscitated along the way after going into cardiac arrest.

The life saving measures created a bigger hole.

"I thought I was really gone; I really did," said Hennis.

Hennis was airlifted to Cooper as soon as the fog lifted, where a team of cardiac and trauma surgeons worked to fix the damage to his heart.

"You're talking about a puncture wound to the heart," said Dr. Michael Rosenbloom. "He's very lucky. There are so many things that had to take place for him to be alive."

"It was just a wonderful experience to be part of, to be honest with you. It was nice to have all those people working for main goal, to get him in better and to get him to the ICU," said Dr. Ray Green.

Hennis is praising Cooper and plans to go back to work with the promise that he will be a little more careful handling his nail gun.

Hennis says he was never a very spiritual man, but that has changed, and he hopes to be out of the hospital by Easter.

Hennis' family will be holding a benefit for him soon since he does not have medical insurance. They have set up an account for him at the Thunderbolt Credit Union in Millville, N.J. for donations.


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