Running After Transplant: Shazwali Did A Half Marathon At KLSCM 2020 VR!

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to any running or mass participation events from being held this year. But looking on the bright side, the year sees the rise of virtual events. 

A virtual race is a race that can be run (or walked) from any location you choose. Participants can run, jog or walk on the road, on the trail, on the treadmill, at the gym, or on the track (or even at another race). You get to run your own race, at your own pace, and time it yourself. 

One such virtual race is the KL Standard Chartered Marathon 2020 Virtual Run. KL Standard Chartered Marathon 2020 Virtual Run (KLSCM2020VR) has drawn to a close on 13 December, 2020. More than 50,000 runners registered to join the free race and could log their run between 12.00am, 5 December 2020 to 11.59pm, 13 December 2020 (GMT+8). 

Running a half marathon for the first time can be daunting but that certainly didn't stop Shazwali Taib from doing it last Sunday and clocked-in 21km for KLSCM 2020 VR! What's more impressive is that Shazwali is a kidney transplant recipient. 

Let's get to know more about this plucky guy and runner through our latest instalment of Q&A with fellow runners. 

Hi Shazwali, congratulations again for finishing your half marathon! Thank you for agreeing to spend some time answering our question. 

Can you tell us a bit of yourself.
My name KHAIRUL SHAZWALI BIN TAIB and I am 34 years old. Working as Engineer and married with 2 kids (3 years old son & 6 years old daughter). I graduated from UPM in Mechanical Engineer. I did not smoke and I did not take any supplements.
Have you always been active? 
I have been active since my schooldays as an athlete. Starting with athletics and football, I later developed interest in rugby during secondary school. I played rugby at National Level and represented several clubs and states such as Negeri Sembilan and Selangor.

When did you get diagnosed with kidney failure? 
I was diagnosed with kidney failure in May 2016. During the weekend, I played rugby for UPM Alumni until the final match. Later on Monday, I felt pain in my right toe and suspected it as ‘Gout’. So I went to the clinic and the doctor requested me to do a blood test and I was given a week of sick leave to rest. On Wednesday, I received a call from the clinic instructing me to come over to the clinic urgently as requested by the doctor. I went to the clinic with my wife and the doctor started interviewing me. That was the moment the doctor broke the news, based on my blood test result, I have kidney failure with 9% functionalities at that time.
Who was your donor? 
My donor is my elder brother KHAIRUL SHAZWAN BIN TAIB (38 years old). He went to meet and discussed with the doctor in Hospital Serdang without informing me or our family. He volunteered to become my donor and underwent several initial tests. We're not really close and I only found out that he will become my donor during my 3-months routine check-up at Hospital Serdang and the doctor requested me to come with my brother on my next appointment. It was a very shocking moment because my kidney failure was due to Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). PKD is a genetic disease, and I was afraid that he might have it too. It was then that the doctor gave me the unexpected news that my brother matched to be my donor. 

As a kidney transplant recipient, what kind of lifestyle changes that you have to make?
The discipline of taking my medicine. I cannot miss the important immunosuppressant medicine (lower my immune system) to avoid any rejection to the new kidney. Other than that, I just maintain my previous lifestyle with balanced diet. 
Is there a limit to what kind of exercise or workout that you can do?
As far as I am concerned, I have to be careful about dehydration while doing any activity. The doctor did not specifically stop me from doing any exercise or workout but always advise me to monitor and to ensure that I keep hydrated, in order to take care of the new kidney. 

What made you want to do a half marathon at KLSCM 2020 Virtual Run? 
I have dreamt of joining KLSCM since during my dialysis time but I always missed to get a spot to join. In 2019, I planned to run Twincity Marathon 12km with my dialysis tube. But God had better plans for me and I needed to be admitted for my transplant operation before the race. 

I wanted to do the KLSCM 2020 VR half marathon basically to inspire others that transplant really saves life and make our life normal again (we just need to take medicine). Even during my dialysis period, I have come out as Tube Runner to encourage other patients, that we still can enjoy our life (with our doctor's advise). 
Photo credit: Azwan Zakwan

During my Tube Runner period, the farthest I ran was only 12km. So, the main reason I wanted to do the half marathon was that I want to inspire and create awareness to others (both patients and public) that transplant is the best treatment for kidney failure patients. We can live a ‘normal’ life again and we can do what other people do. At the same time, I really hope that many people will come forward to pledge as organ donor and family members step out to become a living donor for their sick family member. 

How was your preparation to run your first HM and for KLSCM 2020 VR? 
For my preparation, I consulted more with Dr. Rafidah especially on the transplant kidney care. I train to know my body better when to rehydrate and how to control my body. I do some distance and also speed and interval training according to my body condition. 

I am very grateful to be surrounded by very experienced runners and they shared their running tips, also the do's and don'ts during running. 

Where did you run and why did you choose the venue? 
I ran at Putrajaya using the island route starting from McDonalds. 

I chose the venue because I am quite familiar with the route and also the environment. I also frequently run in Putrajaya so I feel more comfortable selecting this route. 
We learn that Dr. Rafidah Abdullah paced you during the run. How did that come about? Any other friends joined you doing the run that day? 
Yes, Dr Rafidah Abdullah paced me during my virgin HM. 

*Dr. Rafidah Abdullah is a doctor since 1996, physician since 2001, nephrologist since 2005. MOH Malaysia. MSc Palliative Care, Kings College London 2019.
- info taken from her Twitter account

It all started in 2019 when I approached her to run together for Twincity Marathon. At that time she was still in overseas pursuing her education, and she registered to join the event and was willing to run with me. 
I felt very honored since I was able run besides the well-known nephrologist and it is a stepping stone for me to share my story and start to inspire others. 

Alhamdulillah, there are several friends joining me that day and I also met a lot of friends throughout the route and cheering me up. I felt really flattered because they are very supportive.

Hopefully, we'll see you (and everyone else) at the starting line of KLSCM 2021! 
Any plans of doing the full marathon next year at KLSCM?
Looking forward to run in KLSCM 2021 and hopefully to join run for a cause as well. As of today, I have no plans to do any full marathon next year but let time decide. hehehe

What's your next goal?
My next goal is to motivate Malaysians especially kidney failure patients on how we want to react to this disease and how we can assimilate this treatment into our normal lifestyle. Just like TED talks, I really hope that I can spread my words to reach all Malaysians on adapting lifestyle pre, post and during the disease. 

Do visit  website and Facebook page to learn more about chronic kidney diseases (CKD) and treatment especially PD and other related information. It is a public page to encourage sharing of knowledge with regards to chronic kidney diseases (CKD) and treatment. Patients and care giver can share their experiences with others.

Readers, if you want to learn more or enroll to become an organ donor, you can visit National Transplant Resource Centre (NTRC) website at: 

I have pledged to become organ donor since 2013. Will you be one too?


  1. Wow that is really an inspiring story indeed. How powerful and it goes to show that determination and conviction can bring your further.

  2. Thank you Lina for sharing this very inspiring brave man life story with us. He is so strong mentally. We wish him all the best and full strength!

  3. This post is so touching and inspiring. I read it 3 times and wish to shake Khairul Shazwali's hands for coming this far. I will take note when my toes or fingers start to pain and not to take it lightly.

    I could feel his strong desire to run the race. At my age, I started boxing, basketball and even cycling again as I don't want to miss out my passion. Anay dah tua weiiii. LOLOL


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