The Irish Kidney Association has said last year saw the worst decline in organ donation on record in Ireland.

There were 58 deceased organ donors, leading to 151 transplants, a 35% fall in the number of donors compared with the previous year.

IKA Chief Executive Mark Murphy said he did not believe it was a lack of public willingness to donate.

Mr Murphy said it was possible that staff shortages and pressures in intensive care units means the families of potential donors are not being approached.

Groups involved in organ donation today launched organ donor awareness week, which takes place from 2-9 April.

A new form of organ donor card was launched that allows people to indicate their wishes using a smart phone application.

The National Renal Transplant programme at Dublin's Beaumont Hospital has said that the number of kidney transplants increased sharply in the first two months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

There were 44 kidney transplants completed in the first two months of this year, compared to 17 transplants in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, the IKA says informed consent should continue to be the system under which organs are donated in Ireland.

The Department of Health and Children has said there is no question of organs being taken without the consent of the family under the new opt-out organ donation system it plans to introduce.

The Department said that full consultation will take place with the next of kin.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly is due to meet with the IKA soon to discuss the issue.

The National Renal Transplant programme at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin has said that the number of kidney transplants increased sharply in the first two months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

There were 44 kidney transplants completed in the first two months of this year compared to 17 transplants in the same period last year.