Update: Dec. 26 at 12:45 p.m.
Former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo shared an update on Matadi Sela Petit, the 8-year-old African boy he flew from the Congo to the U.S. for life-saving surgery, on Friday.
Mutombo revealed the unfortunate news that Matadi died following an adverse reaction to anesthesia.
“The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation is sad to share the news of the passing of Matadi Sela Petit,” he wrote on Instagram. “During the delicate surgery, Matadi suffered a rare and unpredictable genetic reaction to anesthesia. Despite the diligent efforts of his medical caregivers, Matadi did not recover and he passed away last night.”
He added, “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. 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.”
Original: Dec. 13 at 9:25 a.m.
Former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo flew an 8-year-old African boy to the U.S. for life-saving surgery, reports KABC.
The child, Matadi, had a giant tumor growing on the left side of his face.
“Very difficult as a father to see a child who is 8 years old who is born like all of us but has not gotten opportunities,” Mutombo said.
Matadi’s trip from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the U.S. was sponsored by the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, and doctors from the Osborne Head and Neck Foundation will perform the surgery for free.
“He is suffering from a life-threatening illness, and we are here to help this little boy and Mr. Mutombo’s foundation save this little boy’s life,” Dave Dell, of the Osborne Head and Neck Foundation, told the station.
The Hall of Famer is also known for his humanitarian work to help people improve the lives of people living in the Congo, where he was born. His foundation opened the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, which has treated close to half a million patients.
“Right now, we want to improve the living condition of the people in Congo, where the mortality rate is 45 for men and 47 for women,” Mutombo said. “Hopefully [the surgery will] change the life of this young man and [he can] go back to living a normal life.”
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.