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Chinese mother flies in and spends night by dying son’s bedside

Ms Ren stayed by Mr Li’s bedside in the intensive care unit all of Sunday and overnight until doctors switched off his life support and initiated surgery on Monday morning to remove his organs for donation.

Friends of Mr Li told The Age that Ms Ren was very emotional on arrival on Sunday, but appeared calmer having spent close to 24 hours with her son.

Xing Lan Ren, Xiao Li's mother, arrived in Melbourne on Sunday morning before going to the hospital.

Xing Lan Ren, Xiao Li’s mother, arrived in Melbourne on Sunday morning before going to the hospital.

“[Ms Ren] was very sad yesterday, she spent the whole night with him until this morning. We went to the hospital this morning to pick her up and took her to her apartment,” said Ivy, a friend who did not want her last name published, on Monday morning.

“We managed to get her to drink and eat a bit, now she’s sleeping … we were just seeing how we could help her.”

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Ms Ren was met at Melbourne airport by staff from the government and the Transport Accident Commission, who are providing insurance for travel and funeral expenses.

She is expected to stay in Australia for one to two weeks, self-quarantining in Melbourne, before she returns to China. She will be allowed to take her son’s body back with her.

After being granted a visa on Friday afternoon Australia time, Ms Li boarded a commercial flight about 24 hours later, on Saturday evening. This is her first international trip.

Friends of Mr Li in Melbourne and the TAC will help Ms Ren with logistics such as organising his funeral and repatriation, and setting up a local bank account.

Last week, Ms Ren approved the donation of Mr Li’s organs to assist 10 Australians from her home in Qingdao, about 1000 kilometres east of the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan.

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge on Monday said Ms Ren was in good health upon arrival in Melbourne but her entry was handled “very carefully”.

“We’ve been very, very cautious here and I can understand that people would be concerned [about coronavirus],” Mr Tudge said.

“But it’s a very careful balance here that on the one hand we wanted to show deep compassion for Ms Ren to be able to see her son, on the other, we will never at any stage put the public at risk,” Mr Tudge said.

The Australian government has indicated the ban on foreign nationals out of mainland China will almost certainly be extended beyond February 15 due to increasing coronavirus fears.

There have been more than 6000 confirmed cases worldwide, including 15 in Australia, with 906 deaths.

“Ms Ren was not from Wuhan, the affected area, she was from another part of China,” Mr Tudge said.

“She had a health check when she arrived. She was escorted separately the entire way. And so there was no risk to the broader public from her being here.”

Mr Li was covered by Victorian road insurance, meaning he had unlimited medical and hospital cover.

Ms Ren can also claim up to about $24,000 in visiting expenses and almost $16,000 in funeral expenses.

The Victorian coroner will also prepare a report on Mr Li’s death as it involved a motor accident.

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