£17k raised for ICU staff after Covid death of 'selfless' Leeds family man
The family of a "selfless, compassionate and humble" Leeds dad and businessman have raised almost £17,000 to say thank you to the hospital staff who cared for him before he died from coronavirus.
Dad-of-three Raj Rayit came to Leeds aged 10 without a word of English but made the city his home - launching a business, starting a family, doing charity work and becoming a much respected figure in his community.
The 58-year-old, who had no underlying health conditions, died at the start of the month after contracting Covid in December.
His family, including wife Rajinder, a teacher, and sons Amit, Ajay and Roshan, watched his final moments over Zoom as the heartbreaking decision was made to withdraw life support.
The Rayit family, of Beeston, are "devastated" but have drawn hope from the outpouring of love and donations to a Just Giving page raising funds for the Intensive Care Society.
Ajay, 28, said: "He was a very fun loving, carefree guy. He worked hard and prioritised family above everything - he would do anything for his family.
"He would always tell us to work hard and also help others who can't help themselves - he would always help others."
Dr Rayit tested positive for Covid shortly before Christmas, but his condition deteriorated and he was taken to St James's Hospital on Boxing Day.
His was given steroids and antibiotics but his need for oxygen gradually increased and he was given an oxygen mask, though his family remained hopeful that he would recover
Ajay, who had expected his dad to be at his planned 2021 wedding, said: "We would ring up the hospital every day and ask how he was getting on and we'd also speak to him through his phone.
"He was in good spirits but he was coughing quite badly and could barely talk over the phone, so it was quite hard for us to be able to accept what was happening."
With his condition worsening, Dr Rayit was put into a coma in order to be hooked up to a ventilator before being moved to Leeds General Infirmary, where he spent a week before passing away.
His family were able to visit him before his death and praised the "sheer dedication, compassion and strength" of hospital staff.
A Sikh consultant was able to perform a prayer while holding Dr Rayit's hands in the final hours of his life.
Ajay said: "I always knew that if he got it he would get it worse than us, but I never thought that he'd be the one to pass from it.
"That shock has definitely been felt for our family and our community.
"We have told everyone - when you get the jab offered, please, please take the vaccine.
"Seeing the devastation, we don't want anyone to go through that. My dad followed all the rules and he still managed to get it from somewhere."
Dr Rayit was an expert in electrical engineering and set up his own business called SARAS with his brother (using the initials of his own and his brother's children), in Tong Road.
He often spent his weekends helping out at the Ramgarhia Board temple in Chapeltown Road, where his funeral was also held, and the Baba Vishvakarma Sabha.
He was an avid Leeds United fan and was thrilled to see the Whites promoted last year.
Ajay added: "If you needed anything, any advice in life, he was the guy. He wasn't just my dad, he was a lot of our wider community looked up to him as a dad as well.
"So when people found out about his passing, there were a lot of people that were very upset as they had not realised it had got to the stage."
Although the Rayit family are devastated that their dad was not able to reach retirement or meet future grandchildren, they have been heartened by the large sums raised in his name.
Ajay said: "We surpassed £10,000 pounds within 48 hours, which was amazing. That helped us draw strength, to know that a lot of people who didn't even know him would donate."
A message from the family on the fundraising page read: "We are devastated losing such a fine man who we are proud to call our father and vow to keep his principles alive.
"It is with this thought that we would urge you to join us in raising money to fund equipment and help to deliver care for the Intensive Care Society."