Missy Franklin Johnson seeks help for family, spreads word about living organ donation

Build Presents Missy Franklin Discussing Her New Book "Relentless Spirit"
Getty Images

Missy Franklin Johnson, an Olympic champion swimmer, spent her time surrounding the recent Winter Games learning and spreading the word about living organ donation. It’s a topic that unfortunately is affecting her family.

Franklin Johnson’s father, Dick, and aunt and godmother, Deb, are in end-stage kidney failure. That side of the family suffers from genetic polycystic kidney disease. They are both on transplant waiting lists for a cadaver kidney. That wait can take years, so they are also looking for living donors.

Dick’s wife, D.A., went public on Facebook on Jan. 23, asking if anybody knew someone who might be interested in becoming a donor.

“Our family is looking for a Hail Mary and need your help as we are in a race for time,” she wrote.

She said then that Dick’s kidney function was at 15%, closing in on the point of needing dialysis with noticeable symptoms including extreme fatigue.

“It has been hell watching my dad go through this,” Franklin Johnson shared on Instagram on Feb. 14, National Organ Donor Day.

Dick said Friday he’s “incessantly tired” with low energy.

“Playing the waiting game on the verge of dialysis not knowing if I might get a donor kidney this month, this year or never is cause for high anxiety especially after 2 years of self imposed exile in the mountains due to Covid,” he wrote in an email.

Deb said she’s grateful to be feeling fine so far, though more tired in the evenings.

“The mental anxiety of the unknown has definitely been the most difficult adjustment for me at this point,” she wrote in an email. “I feel so defeated to be stricken with a genetic disease that there is nothing I can do to cure it, or send it into remission. The ‘wait and see’ game is especially difficult for me, who is a self aware Type A personality and accustomed to working the solution and not focusing on the problem.”

Before D.A. went public, family and friends offered kidneys. Franklin Johnson’s husband, Hayes, was the first, but “Dick would not accept this wonderful offer,” D.A. said. Others were tested but ultimately were not matches.

Since D.A.’s Facebook post, 25 more potential living donors registered on the American Transplant Foundation’s database. Some were deemed not a match through initial testing, and others are set for further evaluation.

“There are no exact stats on how many matches it takes to find a living donor, every case is different and depends on the blood type, age, medical history, etc. of a potential transplant recipient,” Anastasia Henry, executive director of the American Transplant Foundation, wrote in an email. “The general recommendation is – you need to keep sharing your story and keep looking for your living donor, your hero, till you find one.”

The family is directing anybody interested in learning about living organ donation to the American Transplant Foundation and its database.

“There are a lot of people that are in desperate need of this,” Franklin Johnson told NBC’s Denver affiliate. “It’s a very special thing to do [become a donor], we don’t want to downplay it at all, but if you feel called to do it, then we really encourage people to learn more about it.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight


Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen

Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!