MILWAUKEE -- The gift of life is being given more frequently in Wisconsin. Organ donation is on the rise, and doctors are hopeful to grow the totals even more by targeting a new audience.
FOX6 News spoke with a doctor who said increased awareness and better technology are driving the increase.
In Wisconsin, there are few better ways to get attention than by having a Packers player make the appeal, but still, Dr. Ehab Saad didn't mention Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb when he explained the recent increase in organ transplants.
"That has to do with increased awareness about the importance of organ donation, as well as we now have more technology that gets us to use certain organs we wouldn`t be able to use in the past," Dr. Saad said.
Dr. Saad uses the kidney pump as an example of a technological advance that increases the odds of a transplant being successful.
"Instead of just keeping the kidney on ice, we will put the kidney on a machine that will circulate fluids inside the kidney, almost mimicking what’s happening inside the body," Dr. Saad said.
Over the past five years, transplant totals have increased each year in Wisconsin. 2016 was just the second time the number ever topped 800.
"More and more people are coming forward to be an organ donor," Dr. Saad said.
Doctors at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin and across the state hope to keep growing that number with the creation of a Spanish donor registry.
In recent years, Wisconsin has reported an increase in the amount of Hispanic transplant recipients.
"For a person from a minority background, there is more of a chance of having a successful transplant if you get an organ from the same ethnic background," Dr. Saad said.
There are exceptions, of course.
When JoAnn Eiring, a white female judge in Brookfield gave her kidney to Derek Mosely, her black male colleague in Milwaukee, it made national headlines.
Dr. Saad said the odds are still better with an ethnic match.
The goal is to grow the Hispanic donor base by catching the attention of Spanish speakers.
"That will get them more likely to find this data easy to interpret as well as easy to understand and that will also get them to be encouraged to come forward to be an organ donor," Dr. Saad said.
Across the board, there is demand for any and all organ donors. In Wisconsin, more than 2,000 people are waiting for a transplant. In Wisconsin, you can register to be an organ donor at the age of 15 1/2. Anyone who wants to become an organ donor can register at a DMV location or online: