A 29-year old Kerryman who had been on a waiting list for a double lung transplant for almost four years has died without having the operation.

Billy Burke from Killorglin was suffering from cystic fibrosis.

In the absence of a transplant facility in Ireland, the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle in England had the exclusive contract from the Department of Health to perform all Irish lung transplant operations.

The hospital was to be given lungs taken from donors in Ireland. However, specialists at the Freeman Hospital removed Mr Burke from their waiting list in November of last year because they said he was too high-risk.

Mr Burke sought a second opinion and was put on the waiting list at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester.

That hospital sought priority access for Mr Burke to suitable Irish lungs, but this was refused because of Newcastle's first call on all lungs donated in Ireland.

Mr Burke had appealed directly to the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and to the then Health Minister, Micheál Martin, to ensure that he got the operation.

More than 55,000 people signed a petition supporting his call, while 5,000 people attended a rally in Killorglin last April.

Mr Burke's condition deteriorated in recent weeks. He died this morning at the Mater Hospital in Dublin.