On Thursday (August 18th), NBC News correspondent Richard Engel announced that his 6-year-old son, Henry, has passed away.
According to the TODAY Show, Richard Engel’s son was diagnosed with the genetic brain disorder Rett syndrome when he was a toddler. Henry notably passed away on August 9, 2022. Engel took to his Twitter account to share the tragic news. “Our beloved son Henry passed away,” Engel tweeted. “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.”
According to his bio on the Texas Children’s Hospital website, Richard Engel’s son was born on September 28, 2015. “When he was still an infant, his parents noticed that he was not reaching his developmental milestones,” the bio reads. “And he underwent numerous medical exams to discover the cause. A genetic test ultimately provided the answer: Henry had a mutation in his MECP2 gene.”
The hospital further revealed that MECP2 mutations cause Rett syndrome, which is described as a disorder that typically affects girls after their first birthday. It notably robs children of learning skills and leaves them with cognitive deficits, loss of speech, and motor difficulties. “In 2018, Henry and his family came to Texas Children’s Hospital’s Duncan Neurological Research Institute (Duncan NRI). Since then, Henry’s mutation has been studied by Dr. Huda Zoghbi, who discovered that MECP2 mutations cause Rett syndrome.”
Speaking about Richard Engel’s son, Dr. Huda Zoghbi shared, “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.”
There is currently no cure or treatment for Rett syndrome.
Richard Engel Recently Said His Son Henry Had ‘Taken a Turn for the Worse’
In May 2022, Richard Engel spoke about his son Henry and how his condition at the time wasn’t improving and things were starting to get rough for the 6-year-old.
“For everyone following Henry’s story, unfortunately, he’s taken a turn for the worse,” Richard Engel shared on Twitter. “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.”
Richard Engel shared with PEOPLE in 2019 that Henry was lacking a “conductor gene” and the medical team at Texas Children’s Hospital was trying to build a treatment that could help immensely. He also opened up in 2020 about how the COVID-19 lockdown had impacted Henry and the Engel family greatly. He wrote in an essay for TODAY that Henry was doing well due to the circumstances.
“Henry had severe special needs, and COVID has been an absolute nightmare for him and the millions of children like him,” Richard Engel wrote. “I’d add more colorful adjectives, but you get the point. [He] doesn’t walk or talk. He can’t feed himself efficiently. He doesn’t sit up straight. Now that he’s getting bigger, he can barely move independently.”