Australia reviews policy towards blood donation from people with ME

From Channel 9 News, 20 April 2010 (Story by Danny Rose)

Australia’s Red Cross Blood Service is reviewing its donation guidelines after Canada halted donations from people who have had chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).


Canadian authorities took the precautionary step earlier this month, based on US research that linked CFS to a recently identified virus (XMRV) which would be transmissible via infected blood.

Australia’s blood service is conducting its own risk analysis. It says existing donor guidelines require people with CFS to defer giving blood until they make a full recovery.

“We are aware of recent developments in Canada,” the Australian Red Cross Blood Service said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We are undertaking our own risk analysis to assess what action, if any, should be taken.”

The blood service said it takes more than 500,000 blood donations each year but only 70 donors with CFS had been deferred in the past two years.

It was standard practice to defer all potential donors who were unwell and in the case of people with CFS they needed written advice from their GP before they could be accepted as a donor.

“The blood service currently defers donors who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (and) before we can accept their blood again, they need to bring us a letter from their treating physician advising us that they are completely recovered,” the statement said.

The Canadian ban on CFS sufferers donating blood is for their lifetime out of concern any viral cause of their CFS could be spread.

XMRV (Xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus) was first detected in prostate tumours in 2006 and there is now conflicting evidence surrounding a link to CFS.

Late last year, a US study of blood samples taken from 101 people with CFS found 95 per cent also showed evidence of XMRV infection but following studies have not produced the same results.

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