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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s son Zain passes away at 26

Zain’s struggle against tremendous adversity shaped the Nadella family’s story to one of resilience, empathy, and determination

Microsoft’s Indian American chairman and CEO Satya Nadella and his wife Anu Nadella’s son Zain Nadella died at the age of 26 last Monday. He suffered from cerebral palsy since birth and required a wheelchair all through his short life.

Zain’s “struggle against tremendous adversity due to his medical condition, has shaped the Nadella family’s story to one of resilience, empathy, and determination,” according to Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Read: Satya Nadella: birth of son with cerebral palsy was a turning point in life (October 21, 2017)

Most of Zain’s treatment took place at the Children’s Hospital. As part of Seattle Children’s Center for Integrative Brain Research, the Nadellas and the hospital created the Zain Nadella Endowed Chair in Pediatric Neurosciences last year.

Zain who has two younger sisters, Divya and Tara, listened to a wide variety of music from different eras, genres and artists.

“He likes everything from Leonard Cohen to Abba to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and wanted to be able to flip through these artists, filling his room with whatever music suited him at any given moment,” wrote Satya Nadella in his book “Hit Refresh” where he shared his profound experience and impact of being Zain’s father.

Zain, on the other hand, was unable to regulate the music, which was a cause of stress for him and his family. When three high school students learned about the difficulty, they volunteered to create a Windows program that allowed Zain to effortlessly navigate the music by tapping his head against a sensor on the side of his wheelchair.

“What freedom and happiness the empathy of three teenagers has brought to my son,” Nadella wrote.

After becoming Microsoft CEO in 2014, Nadella wrote about visiting Zain in the intensive care unit and seeing how all of the medical gadgets were running Windows and linked to the cloud.

Zain’s mother Anu Nadella was closely involved with the hospital he was getting treated at. She co chairs “It Starts With Yes” campaign, an initiative for improving children’s health.

On the campaign website she once wrote, “Parenting was a learned art for me. Yet I knew instinctively that the more I put into the well-being of my children, the better their long-term health would be.”

Read: Satya Nadella’s son, Zain, passes away at age 26: Microsoft (March 1, 2022)

Microsoft executive shared a message by Zain’s doctor where he wrote, “Zain will be remembered for his eclectic taste in music, his bright sunny smile and the immense joy he brought to his family and all those who loved him.”

Nadella shared the news with his executive staff through an email. He requested that they keep the family in their prayers and thoughts while allowing them to grieve privately.

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