A cystic fibrosis sufferer who had been waiting for a double lung transplant for almost four years died today without receiving the operation.
Billy Burke, 29, from Killorglin, Co Kerry, died in Dublin’s Mater Hospital a year after an English hospital’s decision to take him off a waiting list provoked controversy.
More than 55,000 people signed a petition calling for more to be done to help Mr Burke, while 5,000 people attended a rally in his hometown last April.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern also visited the accountant at his home amid the public outcry.
The Irish health service has no transplant facility so the department signed an exclusive contract with the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle to perform all Irish lung transplant operations.
But specialists in Newcastle removed Mr Burke from their waiting list last November because they said he was too ill to undergo an operation.
Mr Burke sought a second opinion and was put on the waiting list at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, which sought priority access for Mr Burke to suitable Irish lungs.
But this was refused because of the Freeman’s first call on all lungs donated in Ireland.
A statement released on behalf of the Burke family confirmed he died peacefully this morning.
“We would like to sincerely thank everybody who was involved in Billy’s care and those who offered words of support for Billy’s plight.
“We ask the media to respect our request for privacy during this very difficult period.”
A spokeswoman for the Freeman Hospital said: “We are very saddened to hear that he has passed away and our thoughts are with his family.”