It's the human and fun side of our sports heroes

Congolese boy helped by Mutombo dies after surgery

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By Agence France-Presse

An eight-year-old boy from the Democratic Republic of Congo who came to Los Angeles with the help of former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo for surgery to remove a tumor from his face has died.

Mutombo and his foundation helped bring Matadi Sela Petit and his father to the United States earlier in December so that doctors could remove the tumor.

But in an Instagram post on Saturday the foundation said the boy had died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Friday night after a reaction to anesthesia during surgery.

“The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation is sad to share the news of the passing of Matadi Sela Petit,” the post said, adding that the boy had “won everyone’s heart with his open and friendly attitude” since his arrival in the United States.

“During the delicate surgery, Matadi suffered a rare and unpredictable genetic reaction to anesthesia,” the statement said. “Despite the diligent efforts of his medical caregivers, Matadi did not recover and he passed away.”

Mutombo, who played in the NBA from 1991-2009, was born in Kinshasa and created the Dikembe Mutombo foundation in 1997 to help “improve the health, education and quality of life for 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.