Richard Engel updated his son Henry, who was born with a Rett syndrome variant, in an emotional tweet on Monday.
“Unfortunately, Henry’s narrative has taken a turn for the worse,” tweeted the 48-year-old NBC News chief international correspondent. “As his health worsened, he got dystonia, which is characterized by uncontrollable shaking and stiffness.”
Henry had just been “in the hospital for 6 weeks, but is back home and receiving love from brother Theo,” according to Engel. As they lay in bed together, Engel’s 2-year-old son, Theo, can be seen giving Henry a nice kiss on the forehead.
Following Engel’s update, the Today show shared his message on Instagram, along with some context on Henry’s health.
“According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Henry was born with a variant of Rett syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that begins with normal early development but then slows around 6 to 18 months of age, causing loss of use of the hands, walking problems, and intellectual disability,” the post read. “Because there is no treatment for Rett syndrome, people with the disorder require medical attention to manage their symptoms.”
Engel, his wife, Mary Forrest, and their son received a torrent of supportive comments on the post. Al Roker wrote, “I can’t image doing the amazing work you’re doing while Henry is away.” “All of you have God’s blessing. Thank you for your brave journalism, as well as that of your crew.”
“Praying for Richard and his beautiful family…thinking about all the incredible reporting he’s doing from Ukraine while coping with these major family health difficulties,” MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle remarked.
With a cute photo of Henry sitting up, Engel thanked fans for their support on Tuesday. “Thank you, everyone,” he tweeted. “From Henry, our Mr. Handsome, thank you for all the lovely sentiments.”
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During a January 2018 interview on the Today show, Engel and Forrest spoke openly about Henry’s condition.
“It may be incredibly lonely when you walk down the street and witness other children behaving normally, knowing that his and our lives will never be like that,” Engel said at the time.
“It’s raw, heartbreaking, and very personal,” Forrest agreed, adding, “but hopefully other people will watch this and feel a little less alone, and we will as well.”