Congolese Boy Who Traveled to L.A. to Remove Tumor Dies During Surgery, Foundation Says

An 8-year-old boy from the Democratic Republic of Congo died during a surgery to remove a facial tumor in Los Angeles, the group who sponsored him announced Saturday.

The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation said Matadi Sela Petit suffered a rare reaction to anesthesia and died Friday night.

The group, founded by retired NBA player Dikembe Mutombo, who is Congolese-American, said it sponsored the child along with other partners so that he could travel to L.A. and  undergo surgery.

According to the foundation, Matadi was born with a cleft lip and a facial tumor that grew as he got older.

"We flew the young boy from CongoDRC with a large tumor on his face —who has been shunned by society to LA so he could be operated on by OSBORNE HEAD&NECK INSTITUTE," the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation said in an Instagram post on Dec. 12. The video post shows Mutombo welcoming the boy at the Los Angeles International Airport.

In a follow-up statement announcing the boy's death, the foundation said:

"Matadi and his father were welcomed with open arms by Dr. [Ryan] Osborne, his team and the Cedars Sinai Hospital family as well as the Ronald McDonald House where he won everyone’s heart with his open and friendly attitude... He 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."

Cedars-Sinai said it could not comment on the case due to patient privacy laws.

View this post on Instagram

MATADI SELA PETIT The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation is sad to share the news of the passing of Matadi Sela Petit. Matadi was an 8 year old little boy with a vibrant and appealing personality. He was born in Kinshasa, DRC with a cleft lip and a facial tumor that enlarged as he grew. Matadi was sponsored by the DMF and several partners to receive surgical treatment for his tumor by Dr. Ryan Osborne, founder and Director of Head and Neck Surgery at the Osborne Head and Neck Institute in Los Angeles, CA. Matadi and his father were welcomed with open arms by Dr. Osborne, his team and the Cedars Sinai Hospital family as well as the Ronald McDonald House where he won everyone’s heart with his open and friendly attitude. 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. 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. We thank Dr. Ryan Osborne and his team, the Cedars-Sinai Hospital medical team, the Ronald McDonald House, the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, the American Embassy in Kinshasa and all those who in large and small ways embraced Matadi and his family. He 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.

A post shared by Dikembe Mutombo (@dofficialmutombo) on

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