Richard Engel, the chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, has revealed the heartbreaking death of his son Henry, age 6.
Engel tweeted the tragic news on Thursday (August 18).
“Our beloved son Henry passed away. He had the softest blue eyes, an easy smile and a contagious giggle,” the anchor wrote.
“We always surrounded him with love and he returned it, and so much more,” he continued, before signing off: “Mary and Richard.”
Engel included a picture of his cheerful baby and a link to a memorial page on the Texas Children’s Hospital website that provided more information about Henry’s life.
Our beloved son Henry passed away. He had the softest blue eyes, an easy smile and a contagious giggle. We always surrounded him with love and he returned it, and so much more. Mary and Richard. https://t.co/M8LV8SHv6r pic.twitter.com/21Ja6TOtjH
— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) August 18, 2022
The article explained how Rett syndrome, a rare developmental disease, was discovered in young Henry due to a “mutation in his MECP2 gene.”
The syndrome is described as a “disease that primarily affects girls after their first birthday, robbing them of learned abilities and leaving them with cognitive deficiencies, loss of speech, and a range of movement issues” on the Texas Children’s Hospital page.
In order to learn more about Henry’s condition after his diagnosis, his family brought him to the hospital’s Duncan Neurological Research Institute in 2018.
In the meantime, Henry’s father was forthright about his son’s medical problems, providing honest updates on Henry’s status and considering the challenges of raising a child with special needs. His updates were more sombre in March when he said Henry’s health had “taken a turn for the worse.”
“His condition progressed and he’s developed dystonia: uncontrolled shaking/ stiffness. He was in the hospital for 6 weeks, but is now home and getting love from brother Theo,” he explained on Twitter.
For everyone following Henry’s story, unfortunately he’s taken a turn for the worse. His condition progressed and he’s developed dystonia: uncontrolled shaking/ stiffness. He was in the hospital for 6 weeks, but is now home and getting love from brother Theo. pic.twitter.com/7atwNPhJ6q
— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) May 31, 2022
Following Henry’s terrible death, his family has asked that anybody wishing to pay respect to him make a donation to Dr. Huda Zoghobi’s ongoing research projects.
“He continues to be an inspiration for Dr. Zoghbi and her team as they work to find effective treatments for Rett syndrome, and they already are making significant progress with Henry’s own cells,” their memorial page reads.
Dr. Zoghbi, meanwhile, shared her own tribute, writing: “Henry was special in so many ways. His loving and endearing smile, and the way he connected with his eyes, stole my heart from the time I met him. His quiet fight against this terrible disease was incredible.”
“We will continue to push as hard as possible to develop treatments. This is how we will honor his life,” she added.