An inspiration to Microsoft's innovations: CEO Satya Nadella's son dies at 26

Microsoft conveyed the sad news to its employees through an email. In the email, it urged all its executives to hold the family in their thoughts and prayers while giving them space to grieve privately.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  1 March 2022 8:00 AM GMT
An inspiration to Microsofts innovations: CEO Satya Nadellas son dies at 26

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's son Zain Nadella died on Monday morning. He was 26 years old. Zain was born with cerebral palsy. Microsoft conveyed the sad news to its employees through an email. In the email, it urged all its executives to hold the family in their thoughts and prayers while giving them space to grieve privately.

In his book Hit Refresh, Nadella recalls the day Zain was born and how that life event helped him grow as a person. He wrote, "I remember the year 1996 as a thrilling time. My wife, Anu, was 25 and I was 29. My career as an engineer was taking off, while she was building her career as an architect. We were far from our families in India, but settling into our new life together in the Seattle area. Even more exciting, however, was that Anu was pregnant with our first child. In the apartment we were renting next to the Microsoft campus, we spent months busily preparing for his arrival — decorating a nursery, putting plans in place for Anu to return to her career, envisioning how our weekends and holidays would change….We were ready to add a new joy to our life.

But then our plans changed."

Thought it was a routine check-up, but turned out to be an emergency cesarean, and Zain was born

Nadella further wrote, "One night, during the thirty-sixth week of her pregnancy, Anu noticed that the baby was not moving as much as she was accustomed to. So we went to the emergency room of a local hospital in Bellevue. We thought it would be just a routine checkup, little more than new parent anxiety. In fact, I distinctly remember feeling annoyed by the wait times we experienced in the emergency room. But upon examination, the doctors were alarmed enough to order an emergency cesarean section. Zain was born at 11:29 p.m. on August 13, 1996, all of three pounds. He did not cry.

Zain was transported from the hospital in Bellevue across Lake Washington to Seattle Children's Hospital with its state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Anu began her recovery from the difficult birth. I spent the night with her in the hospital and immediately went to see Zain the next morning. Little did I know then how profoundly our lives would change. 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. I was devastated. But mostly I was sad for how things turned out for me and Anu.

To say that period of time was difficult is an understatement. One of the things I remember most clearly, however, is how Anu's reaction to Zain's birth was immediately so different from mine. 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. Rather than asking "why us?" she instinctually felt his pain before her own."

Turning point

Describing how the later events in his life and his wife helped him grow as a person, Nadella wrote, "Watching her in those first few days, weeks and beyond taught me 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. Anu is 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 everyday actions it is powerful, whether they be in my role as a father or as a CEO. She inspires me with her willingness to share more about her journey as a mom in the hope it can help others.

Becoming a father of a son with special needs was the turning point in my life that has shaped who I am today. It has helped me 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 passion to have an impact can accomplish with my colleagues at Microsoft."

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