One day after Henry Engel, the 6-year-old son of NBC News Correspondent Richard Engel, passed away following a lengthy battle with Rett syndrome, many of Richard’s NBC colleagues are sharing their own statements of condolences to the Engel family.
Hoda Kotb and Other NBC Colleagues Continue to Mourn the Loss of Henry Engel
Most recently, while co-hosting Today on Friday, August 19, Hoda Kotb took a few moments to remember Henry by sharing a few words while sitting at the anchor desk. “We have heartbreaking news to share with you about a member of our NBC News family,” Kotb began.
“Henry Engel, Richard Engel, and Mary Forrest’s 6-year-old son has passed away. Henry suffered from a rare disease, it’s called Rett syndrome. Over the last few years, Richard and Mary have shared their journey with our viewers to shed light on this disorder and so other struggling families with it wouldn’t feel quite so alone. So many people watching our show see Richard standing in a very dangerous place covering something unaware that at home he was fighting what is the biggest battle.”
Kotb continued saying, while getting a bit emotional, “I remember Mary talking about how she was caring for him, how she would carry him in a BabyBjörn all around the house and that’s how she went through a lot of their life.”
Fellow anchor Tom Llamas also added at the end of the segment, “We know that Richard is so brave, but it is so brave for [Engel and his wife] to have shared that story and that journey because there are so many other families like that. Everyone at NBC News had their head down yesterday, it was just so sad. Richard, we love you and we’re praying for you.”
As Mamas Uncut previously reported, over the years, Engel has been open about his son’s battles. Rett Syndrome is a genetic brain disorder that does not have a treatment or cure.
Engel announced his beloved little boy’s passing on Twitter on August 18. “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.” He signed the tweet, “Mary and Richard.”
As the International Rett Syndrome reports, the disorder can affect “nearly every aspect of a child’s life,” including the “ability to speak, walk, eat, and breathe easily.”
The disorder is often recognized in children between 6 to 18 months. Henry and the Engel family worked closely with Dr. Huda Zoghbi during his six years of life, Today reports. Dr. Zoghbi herself issued a statement, as well, following Henry’s passing.
“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. We will continue to push as hard as possible to develop treatments. This is how we will honor his life.”
Four years ago, in 2018, Engel wrote an op-ed for Today in which he got personal about the heartbreak of watching his son deal with this disorder, but also the sheer joy Henry brought to their lives. He wrote, in part, “None of this means we don’t enjoy our time with Henry. I can’t imagine a child who is shored with more love.”
“We gather on our bed several times a day for what we call ‘cuddle parties,’ where we kid him, rub him, praise him (he loves to hear his name and be praised), and curl his thick, gorgeous hair in our fingers,” Engel continued.
Engel also marveled at the moment Henry uttered his first “dada” to him. A moment he will remember as long as he lives.
“For me, it was validation, an acknowledgment 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’s latest update on his son’s disorder came earlier this year in March in which he told the world that Henry’s condition had “progressed.” Henry at developed dystonia, which resulted in “uncontrolled shaking and stiffness.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Engel family during this incredibly difficult time.
Mamas Uncut is THE online place for moms. We cover the latest about motherhood, parenting, and entertainment as well – all with a mom-focused twist. So if you're looking for parenting advice from real parents, we have plenty of it, all for moms from moms, and also experts. Because, at the end of the day, our mission is focused solely on empowering moms and moms-to-be with the knowledge and answers they’re looking for in one safe space.