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Olympic champion Missy Franklin makes plea for organ donation for those in need, including her own dad

The five-time gold medal-winning swimmer's father, Dick, is in end-stage kidney failure. Now she wants to raise awareness of the need for organ donors.

DENVER — Olympic champion Missy Franklin has much to be thankful for in her life. 

The five-time gold medal-winning swimmer and her husband welcomed their first child, a girl, last August.

RELATED: 'Our whole world': Missy Franklin announces birth of daughter

But now, the Regis Jesuit High School graduate is working to educate people on an issue affecting her father and many others.

Dick Franklin is in end-stage kidney failure and needs a new kidney. It's an illness that runs in her family, Missy told 9NEWS. 

Now, Missy Franklin is working with the American Transplant Foundation to bring awareness to the issue.

"It's something that hits really close to home for us," she said. "My dad is in desperate need of a kidney and we're trying to avoid dialysis, and there are a lot of people that are in desperate need of this."

There are more than 1,500 people currently on organ donor lists in Colorado, she said. More than 200 Coloradans lost their lives waiting for an organ transplant last year.

Feb. 14 isn't just Valentine's Day. It's also National Organ Donor Day, and now the Franklins wants to encourage people to learn more about it and see if organ donation is something they want to pursue. 

"The educational piece is so important for people to understand," Dick Franklin said. "The technology today, the support that they can get financially, ethically and emotionally. It just makes it so easy and for people that have given, they look back at this as a lifetime opportunity to save a life."

Those who want to learn more can go to the American Transplant Foundation's website

RELATED: Woman donates kidney to hubby's ex-wife days after wedding

RELATED: 6-year-old boy receives new heart after 4 years of waiting

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