Organ donation rates have stagnated in Canada since 2006, according to a new report.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information released its annual report on end-stage organ failure on Monday.

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A kidney transplant can save $250,000 per patient over five years compared to dialysis treatment. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

"While the latest rates are above 2001 levels, the need for organs still outpaces the supply," the institute said.

In 2010, 229 patients died while waiting for organs.

The number of organ donors and the number of transplants performed in Canada have remained virtually unchanged since 2006.

In 2010, the living donor rate was 16.3 per million population compared with 17.0 in 2006.

The deceased donor rate decreased to 13.6 donors per million population in 2010 compared with 14.0 in 2006.

The majority of people waiting for a transplant need a kidney. Among this group, the average time spent on dialysis was 3.7 years. Patients with an available living donor were on dialysis for just under 1.5 years.

Transplants a cost-saver

The wait time has "substantial cost implications," CIHI said. The institute estimated it costs about $60,000 for hemodialysis per patient per year compared with $23,000 for a kidney transplant plus $6,000 a year for medications.

"Over a five-year period, a transplant is therefore approximately $250,000 cheaper per patient than dialysis while improving quality of life."

At the end of 2010, an estimated 39,352 people were living with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) — more than triple the number recorded in 1991, the report's authors said.

The aging population is reflected among new ESRD patients. About 53 per cent of those who started kidney treatment such as dialysis were 65 or older in 2010, up from 39 per cent in 1991. Incident rates were stable over the decade and may be starting to decline.

Diabetes was the main cause of ESRD, accounting for 35 per cent of new cases in 2010, followed by renal vascular disease at 18 per cent.

In 2010, 557 living organ donors and 465 deceased organ donors contributed to 2,103 solid organ transplants.

The report also includes chapters on liver, heart and pancreas transplants and the emerging field of small intestine transplants.

Source: Canadian Institute for Health Information. Note: Waiting list numbers are as of Dec. 31, 2010. Transplants are the total number for 2010.