A plumber is lucky to be alive after falling from a ladder and impaling himself on metal railing spikes which missed his heart by an inch.
James Pitchforth, 32, was replacing guttering when the ladder gave way and he fell face down around 20ft.
Three spikes penetrated his chest and he was forced to pull himself off the fence before lying on the ground with blood pouring from his wounds.
Surgeons discovered the four-inch long wrought iron spikes had broken his ribs, punctured his left lung, severed an artery - and missed his heart by a just one inch.
James, from Mirfield , suffered the horrific injuries when he fell from the building in Sydney, Australia, where he has been working for four years.
Speaking from his hospital bed, he said: “I feel very lucky.
He said: “One of my friends who was there said if I hadn’t twisted my body very slightly before impact it would have gone straight through the middle of my chest.
“100 per cent that would have hit my heart. I would have been dead.
“It was about an inch from my heart and the doctors said I was very lucky.
“It’s bad - but it could have been a lot worse.”
James was working on the house with a friend when he fell and recalls the fence getting closer and closer as he fell.
“I remember looking down and literally looking at the railings,” he said.
“I hit a little balcony but that didn’t stop me and I went straight down on the railings.
“I just thought ‘this is going to be bad’ and to be honest I expected the very worst.”
James managed got himself off the spikes and lay on the floor, holding his hands to his chest in a bid to stop the flow of blood while his colleague phoned for an ambulance.
“The left side of my chest was really tight and I couldn’t breathe at all. It was a feeling of cold and pain.”
Fortunately the fall happened less than half a mile from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and within minutes he was taken for a CT scan.
He then underwent a six hour operation.
The spikes - one large and two small - had penetrated his left pectoral muscle, smashed through his ribs, cut an artery, and punctured his lung.
It also emerged he had torn ligaments in his foot but hadn’t noticed due to the severity of his other injuries.
He had a metal plate fitted to his foot as well as a second operation to drain fluid away from his organs.
James is still in hospital under the watchful eye of his partner Alessandra Chapman, 28, a secretary.
“It’s going to be a long time before I’m back up a ladder,” he said.
“If I’m up one again I’d be very shocked.”