By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As the sun dips down over West Los Angeles, the traffic starts picking up as hundreds make their way home.

Debra Starr-Knecht was diagnosed with Stage 5 kidney failure last year. Now, she and her husband make the drive from their Altadena home to the 405 freeway overpass in West Los Angeles in hopes of not only finding a match, but also raising awareness of organ donation. (CBSLA)

For most, the stop-and-go traffic means frustration and delay. But for one Altadena couple, it’s a sign of hope.

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“We’ve developed very affectionate feelings for heavy traffic,” Debra Starr-Knecht said.

About a year ago, Starr-Knecht found out that she was in Stage 5 kidney failure.

“It means that very shortly I will require dialysis,” she said. “The other option is transplant.”

There were more than 107,000 men, women and children on the national transplant waiting list as of February, according to the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration.

With that in mind, Starr-Knecht turned to her family. Unfortunately, none of her family members were a good match, so she and her husband, Wayne, took matters into their own hands.

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“We’ve done everything,” she said. “We first started with having a website built. We have signs in the neighborhood. We have signs on our car. We have signs on our shirts.

“We chose then to go where people are, and that’s the freeway,” she continued.

Nearly every day, the couple makes the long drive to one of the busiest sections of freeway in the country — the southbound 405 freeway near the 10 freeway — to set up a 10-foot sign and wave their flags for hours on end.

“Well, I must admit, I think of each one of those persons as a potential donor,” Starr-Knecht said. “Sometimes they honk, sometimes they wave.”

But for Starr-Knecht, every single honk is a sign of hope.

“It’s an incredible gift,” she said of organ donation. “It’s a gift of 20 years, and I can’t think of anything better than having 20 more years to watch my son’s lives go on and develop and new children be added to the family.”

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According to HRSA, another person is added to the transplant waiting list every nine minutes and 17 people die each day waiting. More information about signing up to be an organ donor can be found online at