They met as babies fighting for their lives. Now they’re college roommates.

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The two newborn babies had the same critical heart condition and were placed in intensive care rooms next to each other at a Texas children’s hospital. Both sets of parents were told their infants had about a 40 percent chance of survival.

“It was so scary and stressful,” recalled Kimberly Rippentrop, 54. “We weren’t given much hope.”

They met as babies fighting for their lives

Her son, Seth Rippentrop, and the infant in an adjacent hospital room, Tate Lewis, pulled through after weeks in the hospital following surgeries for hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital condition where the heart’s left side doesn’t form correctly.

Now 21 years later, they’re together again — this time as roommates at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Seth is on the dean’s list and is studying physics, while Tate is majoring in business administration and plays on the golf team. They decided to rent an apartment together this fall after arrangements with former roommates didn’t work out, said Kimberly Rippentrop.

“It’s emotional to see them together again now and know how far they’ve come,” she said. “Their connection is so strong, it’s like it was meant to be.”

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Seth said he got to know Tate when they both attended Camp Moss, a summer camp in Texas for children who have had heart surgeries. Tate is from Paris, Tex., about 90 miles from Seth’s home in McKinney.

Tate, left, and Seth in 2014 at Camp Moss, a program run by Camp John Marc summer camps in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for children who have had heart surgery. (Kimberly Rippentrop)

“We’d see each other at camp every year and we were assigned to the same cabin,” said Seth, 21. “Whenever we’d start talking, it was like no time had passed. We’d immediately pick up where we left off.”

Tate said the pair quickly bonded because they could each relate to what the other was going through.

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They’d also heard stories growing up about how they were in rooms next to each other in the newborn intensive care unit at Children’s Health hospital in Dallas.

Kimberly and John Rippentrop and Cheri and Duane Lewis supported each other during the stressful weeks the boys were in the NICU, said Tate, 21.

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