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'The Last Gift You Sent To Me': Coronavirus Whistleblower's Widow Gives Birth

When Dr. Li Wenliang died of COVID-19 several weeks after the Chinese whistleblower tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, his family was expecting to grow in the coming months.

Now his widow, Fu Xuejie, has welcomed their second child, a boy, to the world without him.

"Husband, are you watching from heaven? The last gift you sent to me has been born," Fu said in a note posted to the Chinese social media platform WeChat. "I will definitely take care of him well."

Friday's bittersweet announcement comes more than four months after the death of the ophthalmologist, who had warned friends and former classmates about the novel coronavirus he'd seen sweeping through the city of Wuhan around the turn of the new year. For his efforts, Li received a reprimand from local authorities in January for "publishing falsehoods."

Not long afterward, Li contracted the virus and died from complications connected with COVID-19 in early February.

His death took its toll on the family he left behind. Fu told local Litchi News that she was overwhelmed with grief and had to be hospitalized for a spell as well.

It also stirred mourning and outrage among observers elsewhere in China and well beyond its borders. The anger was so widespread that in March, Chinese authorities took the rare step of apologizing to his family and formally dropping their reprimand after completing an investigation into the official response.

Thousands of WeChat users offered their congratulations to Fu on Friday, passing along words of comfort and celebration in comments on her announcement.

"We hope this child will carry on the spirit of Dr. Li," one commenter said, "and be a good man."

NPR's Emily Feng contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.