The family of a Texas soldier had an emotional meeting this week with the man who received their son's lungs following an organ donation.
Brett Manuel of Houston, Texas, survived a tour of duty in Afghanistan as part of the Army Rangers, but was killed two years ago in a car crash when he was 22. Manuel's family knew the solider wanted to be an organ donor and quickly signed off on the procedure.
As a result of that selfless act, Brent Snyder was able to get the lung transplant he desperately needed. The student, 23 years old at the time of the transplant, was born with cystic fibrosis, which meant taking a breath felt like "breathing through a straw your entire life," Snyder told ABC's Houston station KTRK.
This weekend, two-and-a-half years after the transplant Snyder met with Brett Manuel's family at their home in Houston.
Snyder's mother, Cassie Snyder, told ABC News today the meeting came after years of letter writing, phone calls and Skype conversations.
"It’s been emotional. But it’s also been awesome in a way," said Cassie Snyder, who explained they were able to meet Manuel's extended family at a gathering on Saturday.
"[We were] hearing all the incredible stories of how he grew up," she said. "It felt like family actually. ... It wasn’t awkward."
Manuel's mother, Trish Dillon, told KTRK that she also saw similarities between the two men.
"There are mannerisms that he has that are familiar to us. We see Brett in him," she told KTRK.
Cassie Snyder said the family plans to return back to Florida this Saturday, but she already snapped a picture of her son watching YouTube videos with Brett's younger brother.
"The brother wrote -- he kind of felt like he had his brother back," said Cassie Snyder. "It completely broke my heart."