TECH giant Microsoft announced on Tuesday (1) that its chief executive officer Satya Nadella‘s son, Zain Nadella, who was born with cerebral palsy, has died. He was 26.
“Very sadly, Satya’s son Zain Nadella has passed away. The Nadellas are taking time to grieve privately as a family,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.
Condolence messages poured in on social media platforms and many took to Twitter to mourn the demise.
Nadella’s son was born on August 13, 1996, after his wife Anu noticed that the baby was not moving as in a normal way during her thirty-sixth week of pregnancy.
The Microsoft CEO said in a blog in 2017 that Zain did not cry at the time of birth and was shifted to Seattle Children’s Hospital in the US, with its state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit from the hospital in Bellevue across Lake Washington.
Damage caused by utero asphyxiation caused severe cerebral palsy in his child, Nadella said.
“Over the course of the next couple of years we learned more about the damage caused by in utero asphyxiation, and how Zain would require a wheelchair and be reliant on us because of severe cerebral palsy,” Nadella said in 2017.
He added: “I was devastated. But mostly I was sad for how things turned out for me and Anu.”
Nadella wrote that becoming father of a son with special needs was the “turning point” of his life and helped him better understand the journey of people with disabilities.
“It has shaped my personal passion for and philosophy of connecting new ideas to empathy for others. And it is why I am deeply committed to pushing the bounds on what love and compassion, combined with human ingenuity and the passion to have an impact, can accomplish with my colleagues at Microsoft,” Nadella wrote.
The Microsoft CEO recalled how his wife’s reaction to Zain’s birth was different to his own. “For Anu, it was never about what this meant for her – it was always about what it meant for Zain and how we could best care for him,” Nadella said.
He admitted that watching his wife in those first few days and weeks and beyond had taught him a lot.
“Over time, Anu helped me understand that nothing had happened to me or to her, but something had happened to Zain. As his parents, it was up to us not to question ‘why’, but instead to do everything we could to improve his life,” Nadella said.
In the blog, he described his wife as “an amazing woman, mother and partner”.
“Her empathy for others runs deep, and from her I have learned that when I infuse empathy into my every day actions it is powerful, whether they be in my role as a father or as a CEO,” he said.
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affects movement and muscle tone or posture. It is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain, that affects a person’s ability to have control over their muscles.
It is estimated that worldwide there are nearly 18 million people with cerebral palsy.
Several political leaders in India expressed their condolences for the Nadella family.
“Saddened to hear abt passing of @satyanadella’s son Zain. My deepest condolences to him and his family n friends. I pray that God gives him n family the strength to bear wth this loss,” India’s minister of state for electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, said in a tweet.
Hyderabad-born Nadella was named CEO of Microsoft in February 2014.
In June 2021, he was also named as the company’s chairman.