The Dark World Of Illegal Human Organ Trafficking Is Explored In Local Medical Crime Thriller

“Organ trafficking is a frightening reality that prays on the desperation of the wealthy and the vulnerability of the poor.” @Bypassmovie / #Bypassmovie

How far would you go to save the life of someone you love? This hard-hitting question is explored in a new, locally-produced fiction film that releases at select Ster-Kinekor cinemas on Friday, 12 May. Title Bypass, this film has joined the controversial conversation on illegal human organ trade by addressing this burning issue in our society.

Directed and produced by husband and wife team, Shane and Bianca Vermooten, and produced by Media Village Productions, South Africa’s first medical crime thriller Bypass stars well known South African actors Natalie Becker-Aakervik, Hakeem-Kae Kazim, Deon Lotz and Greg Kriek. The film highlights the reality of the illegal trade in human organs and its director hopes that by putting the spotlight on this issue and encouraging public date and social activism, those who watch it will become organ donors and contribute to the solution.

“Trafficking in organ trade is an organised crime, involving a host of offenders,” states a United Nations report, with those involved including recruiters who identify vulnerable persons, transporters, hospital/clinic staff, medical professionals, middlemen and contractors.

In 2012, The Guardian newspaper reported that “the illegal trade in kidneys has risen to such a level that an estimated 10 000 black market operations involving purchased human organs now take place annually, or more than one an hour, World Health Organisation (WHO) experts have revealed.”

In 2007, WHO estimated that of all transplants worldwide, 5 to 10% were conducted illegally. In 2011, it was estimated that the illicit ‘organ trade’ generated illegal profits of between US$600 million and US$1.2 billion per year. Underground ‘organ markets’ present a significant threat to the security of national organ donation systems, eroding the image of transplantation and public confidence in organ transplantation worldwide.

Only 0.2% of our population are signed-up organ donors. “If there were sufficient legal organs available, the need for a black-market trade would decrease significantly,’’ says Samantha Nicholls from the Organ Donor Association of South Africa ( – Make the choice to make a difference. Become an organ donor).

“Many filmmakers are proactively addressing burning issues that impact our societies, and Bypass has without doubt joined the conversation with its take on illegal organ donation. The fact that such a production comes out of South Africa marks our growth within the industry and how we have evolved in terms of film production,” says director Shane Vermooten.

“Working with the writing team, we wanted to explore a concept that we believe in: ‘Every human life is of equal worth’. We took this concept and applied it to an issue as complex and personal as organ transplantation. The movie explores a mother’s love for her dying son and makes us question how far we would go to save our own child’s life.

“During our writing process we came across an organ trafficking case where more than 100 illegal operations had taken place in one of our national hospitals. This case highlighted a common misconception that black market organs are only traded in far off ‘African’ countries, when often it is taking place right under our noses in ‘legitimate’ hospitals,’’ states Vermooten.

Of her lead role in Bypass, Natalie Becker-Aakervik says: “I hope that this film creates much needed awareness for organ trafficking and that together we can create a movement that will make a difference.”

Vermooten hopes the film presents a balance between the sensitivity of the pain felt by those in desperate need of an organ, with the brutality of the black market practice. From the opening scene, set in a state-of–the art operating theatre in Cape Town to the closing images, audiences will be held captive by South Africa’s first medical thriller.

The film releases exclusively at select Ster-Kinekor cinemas on Friday, 12 May, including: The Zone and Cresta in Johanensburg; Sterland and Kolonnde in Pretoria; Gateway in Durban; Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth; and at Cavendish, Tygervalley, Parow and Eikestad in Cape Town and surrounds.

For more information on Bypass and for screening details, visit or download the SK App on your smartphone. You can also book at the box office. For news and updates, go to Facebook: Ster-Kinekor Theatres | follow Ster-Kinekor on Twitter: @sterkinekor. For all queries, call Ticketline on 0861-Movies (668 437).

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers.

Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry.

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