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The 8-year-old Congolese boy that retired NBA star Dikembe Mutombo helped travel to the United States to have a tumor removed from his face died on Friday, Mutombo announced on Instagram.
Mutombo and his foundation helped fly Matadi Sela Petit and his father to the United States earlier this month and arranged for doctors to remove a large tumor from the left side of his face. He died after suffering a rare genetic reaction to anesthesia during surgery.
“Despite the diligent efforts of his medical caregivers, Matadi did not recover and he passed away last night,” Mutombo said in the post. “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 of his old and new friends. 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 DRC and which would have given him the opportunity to have a new and different life.”
Mutombo first met Matadi in the Democratic Republic of Congo a few months ago at the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, which he helped build, and said he was moved by his story.
Mutombo, who played in the NBA from 1991-2009, was born in Kinshasa, Congo, and created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in 1997 to help “improve the health, education and qualify of life for the people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
“[Matadi] was a pioneer, and his memory will inspire us to continue to develop efforts and partnerships to improve the lives of the children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Mutombo said in the statement.
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