KEY POINTS

  • Zain was born on Aug. 13, 1996
  • He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy
  • Satya Nadella took over as the CEO of Microsoft in 2014

Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella's son, Zain, died Monday at the age of 26, the company informed its executive staff in an email.

Zain was born with cerebral palsy – a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture. The software maker asked executives to hold the family in their thoughts and prayers, while giving them space to grieve the loss of their child privately.

Satya, who took over the role of CEO in 2014, had been working on designing products to better serve users with disabilities. He said he had been using lessons he learned while raising and supporting Zain. 

Last year, the Children’s Hospital in Seattle, where Zain received much of his treatment, joined the family to establish the Zain Nadella Endowed Chair in Pediatric Neurosciences, as part of the city's Children’s Center for Integrative Brain Research. 

“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,” Jeff Sperring, the CEO of the Children’s Hospital, wrote in a message to his board, which was shared with Microsoft executives, according to the Hindustan Times.

In October 2017, Satya had talked about the birth of his son in a blog post on LinkedIn.

"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 Aug. 13, 1996, all of three pounds. He did not cry," he wrote.

"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."

Satya wrote in his 2017 book, "Hit Refresh," that being Zain’s dad has impacted him profoundly.

“Zain loves music and has wide-ranging tastes spanning eras, genres, and artists,” he explained in one anecdote. “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.”

Satya Nadella, seen in November 2019, took over as Microsoft's chief executive in February 2014 Satya Nadella, seen in November 2019, took over as Microsoft's chief executive in February 2014 Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Brad Barket