The number of kidney transplants is set to increase from over 160 a year to 250, under a €14.5m expansion plan announced at the National Renal Transplant Programme at Dublin's Beaumont Hospital.

New facilities are being provided for a 34-station outpatient renal dialysis unit to increase capacity.

Doctors say that the 250 kidney transplants a year target can be reached within two years.

The number of living donor transplants, which is included in the figures, is also expected to rise.

The phased expansion, which includes extra staff, is being funded by the Health Service Executive.

Around 640 patients are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

Beaumont says that with the development, the number of patients on the waiting list will fall and this, in turn, should reduce the need for long-term dialysis.

It says this could result in savings of around €250m over ten years.

Professor Peter Conlon, a consultant nephrologist, said that each kidney transplant saves the State over €750,000 over the lifetime of the transplant.

The hospital has also launched a new website where potential living kidney donors and recipients can start the process of living donor evaluation.