XMRV – comments from the Chief Medical Officer on blood donation and blood transfusion services

November 13, 2009

The ME Association wrote to Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health, in October in relation to XMRV research – in particular the situation regarding blood donation and blood transfusion services here in the UK.

Click here to read a copy of this letter.


We have now received a reply from the CMO, with the following key points:

  • The Standing Advisory Committee on Transfusion Transmitted Infections (SACTTI), part of UK Blood Services, will be producing a risk assessment for this virus.
  • The current advice from UK Blood Services in relation to ME/CFS has been further clarified: Individuals suffering from ME/CFS are deferred from blood donation until their condition has resolved and they are feeling completely well.
  • The research has also been drawn to the attention of the secretariats for the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) and the National Expert Panel on New and Emerging Infections (NEPNEI), who will continue to monitor developments in conjunction with UK Blood Services and the Health Protection Agency.
  • A copy of the MEA letter and information on XMRV has also been passed to the Professional Director of the UK Blood Services Joint Professional Advisory Committee, along with all the UK virology and retrovirology experts who were copied into our original correspondence.

The MEA would like to thank everyone who has been in contact with information regarding blood donation by people with ME/CFS in other countries.  We are keen to continue building up this database and any further help here would be much appreciated.  It appears that there are very few countries who currently take the same position, or a similar position on blood donation, to that in the UK.

XMRV research will obviously feature during discussions that will be taking place at the Medical Research Council's Expert Group Workshop on ME/CFS next week in Oxfordshire.


Dr Charles Shepherd

Hon Medical Adviser, ME Association

Member of the MRC Expert Group

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