WINTERSET, Iowa -- An Iowa veteran has officially made his way into the Guinness Book of World Records.
'It is with incredible pride and honor that I officially announce Iowa`s own Mr. Nowakowski as now verified by the Guinness Book of World Records, and unfortunately we present this today posthumously, but we would like to recognize him as the world longest surviving heart transplant patient," said Tony Hakes of the Iowa Donor Network, at a ceremony in Winterset Wednesday, as he presented a certificate to the family of the late Ted Nowakowski.
The process of verification took more than a year. Nowakowski was born in November of 1948. His heart transplant operation was performed in April of 1983, giving him another 34 years of life. Sadly, Nowakowski passed away last month at the age of 69. Today, his family expressed their gratitude to his organ donor, who was a marathon runner from Chicago.
"We are so thankful to the family of the organ donor," said Sarah Kirkland, Nowakowski's eldest daughter. "Because without them, giving us the gift of Dad`s heart, I would not have gotten the gift of my soulmates, which are my brother and my sister."
Nowakowski worked for some three decades at Murray High School, where he coached football, taught art and worked in administration. Although he did not live to see this day, his family says before he died, he was notified and was aware that he would be recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records, and he was thrilled by that honor.