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Coronavirus Doctor-Turned-Victim: “I Am Already Gone”

“I am already gone. I see them taking my body, Putting it into a bag,” Dr. Li Wen Liang wrote. 

Li, an ophthalmologist, lived and worked in Wuhan, China, right in the middle of the epicenter for a new virus. He was one of the first doctors who raised red flags about a newly approaching illness. 

“Who would have ever realized that I was going to die?” he wrote. “My soul is in heaven, Looking at the white bed, On which lies my own body, With the same familiar face. Where are my parents? And my dear wife, The lady I once had a hard time chasing?”

The events played out exactly as he predicted. Li died Feb. 7 from coronavirus, the deadly illness sparking worldwide fear. He began warning his fellow doctors about the coronavirus back in December when he took to a chat room and talked about symptoms of a new virus.

But some desired to silence him.

Worse Than SARS

The virus Dr. Li observed looked similar to SARS, a disease that caused a worldwide panic in 2003. But this new one seemed more severe. The Chinese government quickly jumped on Li, making him renounce his warnings, and labeling him a whistleblower and rumormonger. 

“We solemnly warn you: If you keep being stubborn, with such impertinence, and continue this illegal activity, you will be brought to justice — is that understood?” the warning from the government stated. 

The government’s plan for silencing Li backfired. He rose through the ranks as a martyr only trying to warn the public. 

“We will not forget the doctor who spoke up about an illness that was called rumor,” one person wrote. “What else can we do? The only thing is not to forget.”

Still, authorities forced censorship of the pending outbreak. They claimed curbing panic as their reason, but skeptics believe the lacking information exacerbated the pandemic. 

Li continued fighting for the truth, speaking out and warning the public. Even after a patient he treated for glaucoma infected him with coronavirus. 

Keeping the Faith

Throughout his hospitalization, Li never gave up. The New York Times interviewed him about his work, and he told them he would return. 

“After I recover from the disease, I will work on the front line of the battle,” Li told The New York Times. “The virus is still spreading, and I don’t want to be a deserter.” 

Li’s work on the coronavirus became well known throughout China and the medical community, but one aspect of his life remained hidden until the end: his faith. 

In communist China, Christians regularly face persecution. Whether for personal or political reasons, Li wasn’t outspoken about his faith. But at the very end, when he realized he might not overcome the virus, he wrote a poem about his death, telling the world what he believed. 

It ends with 2 Timothy 4:7 — a verse about finishing strong in the face of adversity. 

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” the verse reads. 

While Li wasn’t able to beat the virus, he did finish strong. He never backed down. He never stopped trying to save people. He ran the race and kept the faith. 

Read the whole poem below: 

I don’t want to be a hero.

I still have my parents,

And my children,

And my pregnant wife who’s about to give birth,

And many of my patients in the ward.

Though my integrity cannot be exchanged for the goodness of others,

Despite my loss and confusion,

I should proceed anyway.

Who let me choose this country and this family?

How many grievances do I have?

When this battle is over,

I will look up to the sky,

With tears like rain.

I don’t want to be a hero.

But as a doctor,

I cannot just see this unknown virus

Hurting my peers

And so many innocent people.

Though they are dying,

They are always looking at me in their eyes,

With their hope of life.

Who would have ever realised that I was going to die?

My soul is in heaven,

Looking at the white bed,

On which lies my own body,

With the same familiar face.

Where are my parents?

And my dear wife,

The lady I once had a hard time chasing?

There is a light in the sky!

At the end of that light is the heaven that people often talk about.

But I’d rather not go there.

I’d rather go back to my hometown in Wuhan.

I have my new house there,

For which I still have to pay off the loan every month.

How can I give up?

How can I give up?

For my parents without their son,

How sad must it be?

For my sweetheart without her husband,

How can she face the vicissitudes in her future?

I am already gone.

I see them taking my body,

Putting it into a bag,

With which lie many compatriots

Gone like me,

Being pushed into the fire in the hearth

At dawn.

Goodbye, my dear ones.

Farewell, Wuhan, my hometown.

Hopefully, after the disaster,

You’ll remember someone once

Tried to let you know the truth as soon as possible.

Hopefully, after the disaster,

You’ll learn what it means to be righteous.

No more good people

Should suffer from endless fear,

And helpless sadness.

I have fought the good fight.

I have finished the race.

I have kept the faith.

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.

 

About the author

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Jessie Harbin

Jessie lives in Meridianville with her husband, baby and four dogs. She thrives on chaos, and loves finding good news stories where you least expect them.

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