Mom meets Army son's organ transplant recipient

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ABC-13 was there for the mothers' emotional reunion with the man breathing new life thanks to her son's decision to donate (KTRK)

A Houston soldier saved lives even after his death, and this week, his family had an emotional reunion with the man breathing new life because of his decision to donate.

Brett Manuel had a drive and generosity that melted his mother's heart.

"He was absolutely the funniest guy in the room. He had ice blue eyes you could drown in," said Trish Dillon of her oldest son.

The 22-year-old Army Ranger survived a tour in Afghanistan only to die after a car accident at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Meantime, a few hundred miles south in Orlando, Brent Snyder was desperate for lung transplant.

"If you could imagine breathing through a straw your entire life, that's how it was," is how Snyder described living with Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening disorder that affects the lungs.

All his life it's been a struggle, until Manuel died.

"It's just changed everything," explained Cassie Snyder, Snyder's mother.

Snyder received Manuel's lungs almost 2 and a half years ago. It took him 6 months for him to reach out to Manuel's family.

"How do you thank someone?" asked Snyder.

This week he and his mother are in Houston getting to know Manuel's family better.

"There's a warmth that comes over me," said Brad Manuel of the time together.

"There are mannerisms that he has that are familiar to us. We see Brett in him," said Dillon.

And so today two families sit together bound by a gift and a responsibility to live for the young man who saved another's life.

"It's just been real blessing, a true blessing. I know he's going to honor Brett," said Snyder of her son.

"I am so grateful...to gain a second chance," added Brent.

The two families encourage people to become organ donors. For information, visit lifegift.org or Organdonor.gov.
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