On Thursday, Engel (a longtime chief foreign correspondent for NBC News) shared news of his son Henry’s death on Twitter. According to a memorial page shared by Engel, Henry passed away earlier this month on Aug. 9 due to complications related to Rett syndrome, a genetic brain disorder.
“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,” Engel shared in post on Twitter. Included in the post was a photo of his son and a link to his memorial page on the Texas Children’s Hospital website which shared some of the details of his struggle with Rett Syndrome, a genetic neurological disorder that occurs primarily in girls and more rarely in boys.
The memorial page included a statement from Dr. Huda Zoghbi, the Founding Director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) where Henry was provided with treatment. Zoghbi is a physician who studied Henry’s mutation.
“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,” Zoghbi wrote. “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. We will continue to push as hard as possible to develop treatments. This is how we will honor his life.”
“Richard and Mary l, you were amazing warriors for Henry — pouring your love and care into him and fighting for him every day with everything you’ve got,” TODAY co-anchor Savannah Guthrie replied. “You’re my heroes. Dear Henry, you will be missed. We will keep fighting for you. Donate here for Henry’s research.”
In a separate tweet, Guthrie shared a photo of her holding Henry, writing, “Dearest Henry, I will never forget your sweet spirit and the twinkle in your eye.”
“I’m so terribly sorry, Richard. Henry was a gift, and he was so lucky to have you and Mary as his endlessly loving parents,” Geist replied. “May he rest in peace.”
“My deepest condolences to my dear friend @RichardEngel and his wife Mary on the passing of their beloved son Henry who Richard says ‘had the softest blue eyes, an easy smile and a contagious giggle,'” NBC News Chief Andrea Mitchel tweeted. She also shared a link to Duncan NRI noting that “Researchers are making amazing progress on Rett Syndrome.”
Jim Sciutto of CNN also replied to Engel’s tweet writing “Lord, I’m so heartbroken to hear, my friend. Thinking of you and Mary and your entire family. Please take care.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a child seems so unnatural,” one user replied. “My baby niece Luna Claire, 8 months old, passed away this year from a rare form of cancer that wouldn’t respond to treatment. My heart breaks for you. Deepest condolences to your family.”
“Many are never aware of the personal stories of ‘personalities,'” one Twitter user remarked. “Richard Engel is a personal hero of mine. He reports from countries in conflict at great risk to himself and crew. So sorry for him and his wife at the death of their son.”