NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel delivered the heartbreaking news Thursday that his son, Henry, died Aug. 9 after a long battle with a genetic brain disorder.
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“Our beloved son Henry passed away. He had the softest blue eyes, an easy smile, and a contagious giggle,” Engel tweeted. “We always surrounded him with love and he returned it, and so much more.”
Henry suffered from Rett syndrome, a disease with no treatment or cure. According to the Mayo Clinic, the rare syndrome impacts brain development, causing “a progressive loss of motor skills and language.”
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
Engel shared a link to a story on the Texas Children’s Hospital website explaining more about Henry’s health battle, which began when his parents noticed he wasn’t meeting milestones after his 2015 birth.
Dr. Huda Zoghbi, founding director of the Texas Children’s Hospital’s Duncan Neurological Research Institute, praised the little boy for his brave battle and called him “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,” she said. “His quiet fight against this terrible disease was incredible. What is most amazing, however, is the impact Henry had on so many of us at the Duncan NRI and on our Rett research.”
Researchers are making amazing progress using Henry’s cells to help cure RETT Syndrome so others don’t have to endure this terrible disease. To support the research: https://t.co/M8LV8SHv6r pic.twitter.com/UNnDONMtR1— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) August 18, 2022
Zoghbi said she and other doctors will honor the young boy’s life by pushing hard to develop new treatments.
“TODAY” host Savannah Guthrie also posted a tribute to Richard Engel and his wife, Mary, calling them “amazing warriors for Henry.”
“You were amazing warriors for Henry — pouring your love and care into him and fighting for him every day with everything you’ve got,” Guthrie wrote. “To me, you are the personification of what it means to be a parent — to love, adore, and delight in your child, and bring every ounce of your beings to their flourishing. You’re my heroes.”
She also wrote a note directly to Henry, telling him how much he will be missed and how she will never forget the “twinkle” in his eye.
See the Engel family discuss Henry’s diagnosis in a 2018 interview:
Continue to pray for the Engel family during this intensely difficult time.
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