The little boy who came over from the Congo -- with a major assist from retired NBA star Dikembe Mutombo -- is on the operating table right now, and by day's end, he could be tumor free.
TMZ has learned 8-year-old Matadi went into surgery Sunday at 11:30 AM PST at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. We're told the operation is expected to last around 6 hours. His family is at the hospital waiting on word from doctors.
The operation is being led by Dr. Ryan Osborne from Cedars Sinai Medical Center in L.A. Dr. Osborne has volunteered his services, after being inspired by the good work of Mutumbo.
The family has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House since arriving in Los Angeles Wednesday. TMZ was there at Mutombo greeted the little boy as he got off the plane from Africa.
As we reported, Mutombo met the boy during a trip to the Congo and was so moved by his story he arranged to have him brought to the US for surgery.
This picture was taken shortly after Matadi arrived at Ronald McDonald. In case you didn't notice, Dikembe is on the right.
The large tumor on Matadi's face is not only life-threatening, it created a horrible set of circumstances. He has been shunned in his community, removed from school and has basically lived in his room. The surgery, hopefully, will be life-changing.
We will update you as we get additional information.