Natalie Becker as a cardiac surgeon in Bypass.

There was excitement in anticipation of South Africa’s first medical suspense thriller, Bypass, last night, following its controversial marketing leading up to the premier held at Cavendish Square.

Written and directed by husband and wife duo Shane and Bianca Vermooten, the movie focuses on illegal organ trafficking and asks the question if one life is equal to another.

Shane hoped a lot of blood, sweat and tears on a shoestring budget, and the culmination of the whole experience, would lead to more bums on seats.

“We really had to get creative with our marketing, which has also created a spike of 40% in organ donation. In SA, 0.2% of the population are organ donors and there is an illegal trade, which would not happen if people signed up to donate their organs ,” said Vermooten.

The controversial marketing for the thriller included a website, flyers and a call line for the fictional New Day clinic selling organs and a surgery truck driving through Cape Town.

Leading the cast, former Capetonian Natalie Becker-Aakervik, who now lives in Norway, said the criteria used for casting the lead character as the country’s leading cardiac surgeon was that it must be a woman, a woman of colour and a mother.

She considered it a privilege, challenge and a huge responsibility to try to provide her best performance to portray the surgeon, given her importance in the context of the story.

Hakeem Kae-Kazim said he had received a letter from the creators imploring him to accept the part and explaining their motivation behind this project, on condition he signed up to become a donor.

Deon Lotz said he took the role because of the underlying messages and because this was a different project to the norm, and he of course had a "blast" portraying his character.

Those behind Bypass have pledged to donate 10% of the movie’s profits to the Organ Donor Foundation.

Bypass opens at Ster-Kinekor cinemas at the weekend and moviegoers can learn more about organ donation and make a difference by visiting www.organdonorfoundation.com.