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Congolese boy dies in US after surgery for facial tumor

A Congolese boy who traveled to Los Angeles to undergo surgery to remove a large tumor on his face died late Friday after having an adverse reaction to anesthesia.

The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, which co-sponsored 8-year-old Matadi Sela Petit’s travels and medical procedures, announced his death Saturday on social media.

The foundation headed by the former NBA star said that during the delicate surgery on Dec. 16, the boy suffered a rare and unexpected genetic reaction to anesthesia.

‘Despite the diligent efforts of his medical caregivers, Matadi did not recover and he passed away last night,’ the statement said.

Calls and emails to the foundation and doctors at the Osborne Head and Neck Institute were not immediately returned Saturday.

Matadi Sela Petit, the 8-year-old Congolese boy who was brought to Los Angeles by former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo’s foundation, died during surgery to remove a balloon-size tumor on his face

'Despite the diligent efforts of his medical caregivers, Matadi did not recover and he passed away last night,' according to a statement by Mutombo's foundation

‘Despite the diligent efforts of his medical caregivers, Matadi did not recover and he passed away last night,’ according to a statement by Mutombo’s foundation

'Matadi was an 8 year old little boy with a vibrant and appealing personality,' the foundation said on Saturday

‘Matadi was an 8 year old little boy with a vibrant and appealing personality,’ the foundation said on Saturday

In photos and videos posted on Instagram, Mutombo greeted the boy when he arrived at the airport with his father and accompanied him to a medical appointment.

Matadi was born with a cleft lip and a tumor on one side of his cheeks that grew into the size of a balloon.

‘We are devastated by the loss of Matadi and our heart goes out to his father, his mother and the rest of his family, and all his old and new friends,’ the statement said.

‘We are comforted by the knowledge that a whole “village” adopted Matadi and joined forces to offer him treatment that was not available in the Democratic Republic of Congo and which would have given him the opportunity to have a new and different life.’

In photos and videos posted on Instagram, Mutombo greeted the boy on December 12 when he arrived at the airport with his father and accompanied him to a medical appointment

In photos and videos posted on Instagram, Mutombo greeted the boy on December 12 when he arrived at the airport with his father and accompanied him to a medical appointment

The surgery was performed by Dr Ryan Osborne (seen far right with Matadi and Mutombo) of the Osborne Head and Neck Institute at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles

The surgery was performed by Dr Ryan Osborne (seen far right with Matadi and Mutombo) of the Osborne Head and Neck Institute at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles

Six hours into the operation on Monday, the boy suffered a rare and unexpected genetic reaction to anesthesia

Six hours into the operation on Monday, the boy suffered a rare and unexpected genetic reaction to anesthesia

'Despite the diligent efforts of his medical caregivers, Matadi did not recover and he passed away last night,' the statement said

‘Despite the diligent efforts of his medical caregivers, Matadi did not recover and he passed away last night,’ the statement said

Mutombo, the 7ft2in native of Congo, was inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame after a stellar career as one of the game’s top defensive players in both college and the professional level.

In his post-retirement career, he has devoted his energies to philanthropic ventures benefiting his native country. 

Mutombo has set up a hospital in the Congo where he hails from a devout Christian community. 

The former Denver Nuggets star heard about Matadi’s story of being bullied and ostracized back home because of his condition, so he decided to pay for him to be treated in the U.S. where he says care is ‘a thousand’ times better. 

Mutombo played in the NBA from 1991 until 2009, recording 11,729 points, 12,359 rebounds, and 3,289 blocks during 18 seasons spent mostly with Denver, Atlanta and Houston. He is seen above during a game in 2005

Mutombo played in the NBA from 1991 until 2009, recording 11,729 points, 12,359 rebounds, and 3,289 blocks during 18 seasons spent mostly with Denver, Atlanta and Houston. He is seen above during a game in 2005

He told TMZ: ‘I was touched by what he’s going through as a young boy who’s eight years old. Not going to school.’ 

‘The way he’s been pushed away by the society. His mom has to keep him in the bedroom every day because people are talking bad about him.’

Six hours into the complicated procedure, Matadi went into cardiac arrest on Monday at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. 

The plan was for Matadi to be flown back to the Congo once the procedure and his after care is complete.  

Mutombo played in the NBA from 1991 until 2009, recording 11,729 points, 12,359 rebounds, and 3,289 blocks during 18 seasons spent mostly with Denver, Atlanta and Houston. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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