WARRENSBURG-Ryan Winslow, a local high school sports star and academic standout embarking on a promising business career, died nearly five years ago on Memorial Day weekend in a tragic boating accident on Lake George.
The night of Ryan Winslow's death, his parents, Bryan and Donne-Lynn Winslow, decided to donate Ryan's organs so others' lives could continue.
This next week, the Winslows intend to meet up with Gary Antognioni of Mount Pleasant, S.C., the recipient of Ryan's heart, and various members of the Antognioni family.
It will be the first time the Winslows have met the Antognionis in person, although they've exchanged cards and emails. "It means so much to me that Ryan's heart is still beating," Donne-Lynn Winslow said, choking back the tears. "What makes it so special is that family and friends were very important to Ryan, and the Antognionis are a wonderful family."
Gary and Ellen Antognioni, Winslow said, have three children - two daughters who are in college, and a son who just graduated from high school.
Tuesday April 12, the Winslows were headed for a vacation in Myrtle Beach, with the intention of meeting up April 21 with the Antognionis. Efforts to reach the latter family were unsuccessful as of Tuesday, but the Winslows offered some details.
Gary Antognioni, in his late 40s, is apparently healthy now, recuperating after undergoing the heart transplant, Donne-Lynn Winslow said. She said he was now active after being bedridden with a serious heart condition.
She added that he had apparently successfully overcome the routine challenges of organ rejection.
"It sounds like he's doing well now," she said.
For three years, the organ transplant organization based in Albany restricted the two families' communication to protect privacy, allowing notes only to be forwarded between the two families through their agency, Winslow said.