Last year was a record year for organ donation with 93 deceased donors, a 60% increase on the previous year, according to the Irish Kidney Association.

This allowed for 248 organ transplants to be performed.

The association has called for more funding for kidney transplantation given the savings it can make by getting more patients off dialysis.

IKA Chief Executive Mark Murphy said that 650 people are currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and there are 1,795 on dialysis.

Mr Murphy was speaking at the launch of National Donor Awareness Week.

He called for the establishment of an Irish Organ Donor Registry to allow the public to voluntarily identify themselves on a database, similar to the practice in many countries, including the UK.

Mr Murphy also said that 2011 saw the lowest number of road traffic deaths, dispelling the myth that most organs came from such accidents.

Minister for Health James Reilly said he wants to see more organ transplants performed and that this can be done through a more efficient use of operating time and hospital beds.

He said that keeping a patient on dialysis costs €70,000 a year, so performing more transplants is the obvious way to go.

Mr Reilly said legislation on organ donation was being prepared and there was no question of organs being used in the future without the consent of a family.

There are now 2,800 people enjoying extended life as a result of having an organ transplant.

National Donor Awareness Week runs from 31 March to 7 April.