Engel announced his son's death via a tweet, saying, "We always surrounded him with love and he returned it, and so much more."
Richard Engel, NBC News's chief international correspondent, lost his son after a long battle with Rett Syndrome. He announced the sad news on Thursday via a post on Twitter.
His son was diagnosed with the condition when he was an infant. Henry, 6, was extremely lively and touched the lives of everybody at the hospital he was receiving treatment at.
Engel announced his son's death via a post that read, "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."
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
Per TODAY, since his diagnosis in 2018, Henry was being treated at the Texas Children's Hospital. When Richard brought Henry to the hospital's Duncan Neurological Research Institute (Duncan NRI) in 2018 to seek additional answers, Founding Director Dr. Huda Zoghbi started to closely study Henry's mutations. Dr. Zoghbi, wrote on a memorial page for him, "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. What is most amazing, however, is the impact Henry had on so many of us at the Duncan NRI and our Rett research. We will continue to push as hard as possible to develop treatments. This is how we will honor his life.”
“I called the doctor and he said, 'We found something. It’s very, very severe. It’s lifelong, not treatable,' I was in a state of shock. I got back into this convoy, shaking. It was the worst day of my life,” Engel expressed in an interview with TODAY in 2018.
Doctors had informed Henry's parents about the possibility that his mental capacity would likely remain as of a toddler and that he may never walk, talk, or dress himself. They were also warned to expect future health concerns such as frequent seizures and rigidity. When Henry called Richard Dada for the first time, he was beyond himself. "To parents with typically developing children, a little Dada may not seem like a big deal. But for me it was a validation, an acknowledgement that he’s in there, knows me, knows that his mother and I are forces for good in his life, and above all, that he loves us," Engel wrote, in a heartfelt article about his son.
Engel has also created a memorial page on the Texas Children's Hospital webpage, wherein he has shared Henry's medical journey. The memorial page also gives a brief overview of Rett Syndrome. The page also includes a heartfelt note from the doctor who treated Henry while at his time there. The memorial page also links to a support page wherein funds and awareness can be created for Rett Syndrome.
Engel and his wife hope to keep this memorial as Henry's legacy, and contribute to saving the lives of children like him who are struggling with similar conditions. Children who have Rett Syndrome don't show any noticeable symptoms and seem to develop normally. But as the child grows older, the effect of the syndrome starts kicking in, it starts affecting the cognitive and motor skills.
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