"Zain will be remembered for his eclectic taste in music"
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that his son, Zain, passed away at the age of 26 due to cerebral palsy.
Satya made the announcement on March 1, 2022, in an email to senior executives.
Mourning Zain’s passing, the tech giant asked colleagues to hold him and his wife, Anu Nadella, in their prayers.
Zain was born with cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects an individual’s ability to move and maintain balance.
This was a result of asphyxia in the womb which meant there was reduced oxygen and blood flow to Zain’s brain.
He only weighed 1.3kg (3 pounds) at birth and required life-saving treatment.
But, he received a great deal of care at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Satya Nadella, 54, took over as Microsoft CEO in 2014 with a focus on designing products to help disabled users.
In his 2017 book, Hit Refresh, he wrote:
“It was about deeply understanding what had happened to Zain and developing empathy for his pain and his circumstances while accepting our responsibility as his parents.”
Although Zain was living with this condition, he was still larger than life.
Growing up, he listened to various music genres, including Abba and Leonard Cohen.
Although, Satya revealed that he would become frustrated at not being able to communicate what he wanted to listen to.
But, GeekWire reported that students at a local high school built an app to help solve this issue.
By tapping his head against a sensor on the side of his wheelchair, Zain was now able to easily switch songs.
It was this heartfelt use of technology that really motivated Satya’s vision for Microsoft.
Recalling a visit to Zain in intensive care, Satya saw medical devices running Windows and gained newfound importance for Microsoft’s role in transforming society.
The tech giants have been at the forefront of developing tech aids for people living with disabilities ever since.
Additionally, Satya Nadella and his wife have personally supported causes to help those in similar situations to Zain.
In 2021, they donated £11 million to Seattle Children’s Hospital, helping their work in neurosciences medicine and mental health care.
Jeff Sperring, CEO of Seattle Children’s Hospital wrote in an email:
“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.”
Zain grew up completely adored by his family so his passing comes as a complete shock.
In his initial email, Satya advised his peers and colleagues that he would need time to grieve with his wife and two daughters.