Leeds shopkeeper in battle with immune illness

Rani Barhgota in the Nisa store on Broad Lane, Bramley, which she runs with husband Jo.

Rani Barhgota in the Nisa store on Broad Lane, Bramley, which she runs with husband Jo.

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A shop owner is showing her gratitude for the Leeds hospital which saved her when she was left seriously ill with an immune system illness.

Rani Barhgota was left in intensive care after she was diagnosed with lupus.

Now Mrs Barhgota, who runs the Nisa Today store on Broad Lane in Bramley with husband Jo, has arranged to donate £500 to St James’s Hospital.

The cash has come through fundraising at the shop through Nisa’s Making A Difference Locally charity, as well as £200 from the couple themselves.

Mrs Barhgota said: “It’s just an opportunity to give back.”

The grandmother was taken ill in March 2010 with breathing problems. In hospital, doctors first suspected she had pneumonia but when a specialist looked at her medical history, realised she had been suffering from other symptoms for the four years previously.

Blood tests showed she in fact had systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly known as lupus. The incurable condition affects the immune system and can damage the major organs.

“I’d never heard of it at all,” Mrs Barhgota said.

“There are many types of lupus and because this is the blood lupus, it affects all parts of the body. It’s when your immune system attacks itself. Basically my body was shutting itself down.”

The 48-year-old was in hospital for almost six weeks while she recovered.

She came home for two weeks but then had to return to hospital with an infection which left her so poorly that she spent three days in intensive care.

“My lungs flooded. I thought I was on death row because I couldn’t breathe,” she said.

Luckily treatment worked and eventually she was allowed home again. Now she is well, but the illness has left her with high blood pressure and diabetes and she has regular check-ups.

Mrs Barhgota, who has three children, decided she wanted to help ward 57 at St James’s, where she was cared for. The hospital will benefit from £300 given through Nisa’s Making A Difference Locally charity as well as the couple’s donation.

“They were all good in hospital and my lupus specialist was brilliant,” she said.

“It’s a very good cause and it’s nice we can put something back in the community.”

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