SU students want to save around 100 lives – every year!


A group of medical students from Stellenbosch University (SU) are on a mission to establish a specialized intensive care unit (ISE) for organ donors at Tygerberg Hospital. This dedicated unit, called the Life Pod, aims to significantly increase the hospital’s capacity for post-mortem organ transplantation, thereby saving around a hundred lives annually.

This Life Pod – a first of its kind in Africa – will provide life support to willing organ donors to keep their organs viable until they can be harvested for transplantation. “This specialized unit will safely house donors for the 12 to 36 hours before surgery, instead of wasting their life-saving organs,” said Naazim Nagdee, a fourth-year medical student and vice president of Save7, an organization non-profit focused on organ donation awareness, started by students.

This initiative stems from a personal experience. “We recently came across a family who is desperately looking for a kidney for their six-year-old son,” says Suhayl Khalfey, manager of Save7’s Tygerberg branch. “Tragically enough, the timing of available organs and a possible transplant did not match, and an opportunity for a transplant was missed. This Life Pod can prevent such losses in the future.”

The group of medical students, along with faculty members from the departments of surgery and internal medicine, identified a room in the hospital that could be converted into a Life Pod. They received the green light from the hospital administration and secured the support of departments, which are essential for the Life Pod’s daily operations.

“The final hurdle is raising R400 000 to turn this room into a pop-up ISE,” explains Sachen Naidu, a core member of Save7. They have partnered with The Health Foundation, an organization that supports public health care, which will double every rand raised by the students. This puts the students just R200 000 away from their goal.

To take their commitment to the project one step further, four students – Henri van der Westhuizen, Gerhard Niewoudt, Alexander van Wyk and Jonty Wright – will participate in the Ironman 70.3 in Nelson Mandela Bay on 21 April. Their campaign, aptly named Tri for Life, aims to raise awareness of organ donation and raise vital funds for the Life Pod.

“We can’t wait until we graduate and start helping the 5,000 South Africans waiting for transplants,” says Save7 president Jonty Wright. “Recent national budget cuts in the public sector have exacerbated the issue, with limited ISE beds contributing to the loss of potential donors. Each donor represents up to seven lives that can be saved.”

Founded in 2021 by Wright and his fellow students, Save7 was born out of the heartache of families desperately waiting for organ donations. Their core message is powerful: by registering as an organ donor, individuals have the potential to save seven lives after they die.

The students have already acquired all the necessary equipment for the Life Pod, including an ISE bed, monitors, a ventilator and essential medical lines. In addition, they have a network of volunteers ready to support the medical staff.

Prof. Elmi Muller, dean of SU’s faculty of medicine and health sciences and president of The Transplant Society, an international leader in transplantation, pledged her support to the Life Pod project. “In my experience as a transplant surgeon, I can testify to the profound tragedy of organ shortage and the life-affirming joy that patients and their families experience upon receiving a life-saving organ. The establishment of this Life Pod will have a transformative impact on the lives of organ recipients. I commend the Save7 team for this important initiative and offer my unwavering support to this project.”

“This Life Pod represents a major advance in our fight to save lives through organ donation,” says prof. André van der Merwe, head of transplant surgery and urology at Tygerberg Hospital and SU. “To see the next generation of medical professionals leading this important project with such passion and determination is truly inspiring.”

For more information about Save7, visit their website at, or connect with them on Instagram @savesevenlives or LinkedIn @save7, or call Jonty on 063 612 2401 or email

If you would like to make a donation for the Life Pod, you can make an EFT to SAVESEVEN at FNB account number 630 2528 6823, branch code 260548.

Please use your name and LIFE POD in your reference, as all donors will be named on a plaque in the Life Pod.