"Henry would have turned 7 today" shared NBC News correspondent, Richard Engel in a tribute to late son.
The NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel posted a heartfelt tribute to honor his son Henry Engel's seventh birthday. Henry passed away a month ago after battling Rett's syndrome for about 4 years, according to Today. Along with a photo of Henry, Engel expressed, "Henry would have turned 7 today. A big thank you to everyone who sent kind and thoughtful messages and donated to support medical research to defeat Rett Syndrome. Happy Birthday Binks (our nickname)." Engel tagged the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital, where doctors had treated Henry. Henry was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic neurological disorder around his second birthday on what Engel and his wife, Mary Forest, called "the worst day of my life."
"I called the doctor and he said, 'We found something. It’s very, very severe. It’s lifelong, not treatable,'" Engel recalled. "I was in a state of shock." The Mayo Clinic describes Rett syndrome as a rare neurological disorder that causes a loss of motor skills like walking or talking. The disorder is progressive, meaning it develops over time and can cause intellectual disabilities. There is no treatment or cure for Rett syndrome.
Henry would have turned 7 today. A big thank you to everyone who sent kind and thoughtful messages, and donated to support medical research to defeat Rett Syndrome. Happy Birthday Binks (our nickname) @MaryKForrest to support research: https://t.co/M8LV8SpUeT pic.twitter.com/wRJNJTFthV— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) September 29, 2022
When Henry was not able to meet developmental milestones like talking or walking, after initially assuming he was a late bloomer, the couple ordered the genetic scan only to discover that his mental and physical abilities were extremely limited. When their second son Theo was born in August 2019, Engel shared with People, in an interview, "We know why there is this differential. And it’s going to be hard to watch Theo pass his older brother in terms of capabilities...that’s going to be very difficult for us to see. To see a 1-month-old very soon overcoming his almost-4-year-old brother … that’s going to be tough." With regard to Henry, Engel said, "We were hoping he would grow out of it. … Then we realized it was a genetic condition and he’s not going to get over it. Now holding Theo, it’s such a difference. It’s like we have never done this before."
The Engels still hoped they could beat the odds at some time, sharing in 2018, "None of this means we don’t enjoy our time with Henry. I can’t imagine a child who is showered with more love. We gather on our bed several times a day for what we call 'cuddle parties,' where we kiss him, rub him, praise him (he loves to hear his name and be praised), and curl his thick, gorgeous hair in our fingers." In March 2019, Henry uttered the word "Dada" a few good times which was a triumph for a boy who for the very first time said something intentionally with no mistakes, shared Engel. He added, "Having a special needs child makes you savor the patches of sunshine you cross on the hard, and often lonely, road toward a cure: the doctor’s visits that don’t go as badly as expected, a solid night’s sleep, or a Dada three and a half years in the making."
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
On August 9th, Engel revealed on Twitter that Henry had passed away. "Our beloved son Henry passed away," he wrote. "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."
Cover Image Source: Getty Images for Peabody Awards | Photo by Jemal Countess, Twitter/RichardEngel