RAMAT GAN, Israel – “I had always dreamed about becoming a doctor but basketball was also a passion for me,” said NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo, who traveled to Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer on Thursday to forge a collaboration between the hospital’s global humanitarian efforts and Mutombo’s medical facility in his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
During his visit to Sheba Medical Center, Mutombo toured The Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital and The Edmond J. Safra International Congenital Heart Center, where he visited with sick children and gave them autographed basketballs.
Mutombo, who played 18 seasons for the NBA, has been revered for his humanitarian efforts as well as his basketball prowess. He spearheaded and helped fund the creation of the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in 2007 – the first modern medical facility to be built in decades on the outskirts of his hometown, the Congolese capital of Kinshasa.
Sheba’s Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response sends doctors all over the globe to provide emergency assistance to those long forgotten by the rest of the world. Sheba’s Dr. Elhanan Bar-On, who spearheads these humanitarian teams, has vast experience working in Africa. During the past year, Sheba’s team set up a field hospital in Zambia to treat victims suffering from a fatal cholera outbreak and was able to identify and contain the source of the outbreak.
“Sheba Medical Center is thrilled to be collaborating with Dikembe Mutombo and we look forward to figuring out ways to help the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We are here to support Mutombo’s humanitarian efforts in any way we can. He is not only an incredible basketball star but an inspiring goodwill ambassador for those who are suffering,” said Prof. Elhanan Bar-On, Director of Sheba’s Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response.
Mutombo, who marveled at Sheba’s medical prowess added, “I have been greatly inspired by my visit to Israel and Sheba Medical Center and have seen some amazing medical technology. I believe that Sheba’s humanitarian mission staff will be a great help to my people at the hospital I built in the Congo. I look forward to coming back to Israel and Sheba so we can utilize these technologies to help humanity overcome terrible diseases.”