Congo boy dies Matadi Sela Petit, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a cleft lip and facial tumor that enlarged as he grew, died Friday at a Los Angeles hospital from a “rare and unpredictable genetic reaction to anesthesia,” announced the foundation of former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, which helped to sponsor his medical care.
“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 Dikembe Mutombo Foundation said in a statement. “Despite the diligent efforts of his medical caregivers, Matadi did not recover and he passed away last night.”
He arrived in the U.S. with his father on Dec. 12 for the operation at the Osborne Head and Neck Foundation at Cedars Sinai. Mutombo met the pair at Los Angeles International Airport.
Mutombo said he got involved after meeting the boy and his parents this fall at a hospital his foundation built in his native Congo, according to TMZ Sports. The Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital is named for the NBA star’s mother.
“I was touched by what he’s going through as a young boy who’s 8 years old. Not going to school. The way he’s been pushed away by the society,” Mutombo said prior to the surgery. “His mom has to keep him in the bedroom every day because people are talking bad about him.”