Press statement today from ‘NHS Blood and Transplant’ | 8 October 2010

For a downloadable copy of this statement, please click NHS Blood and Transplant press release 081010

ME/CFS sufferers permanently deferred from giving blood

From 1 November 2010, people with Myalgic Encephalitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME) will be permanently deferred from giving blood in the UK.

The change to donor selection guidelines, which apply across all four UK Blood Services, is as a result of recommendations by the UK Blood Services Standing Advisory Committee on the Care and Selection of Donors, and Joint Professional Advisory Committee (JPAC).

In the past, donors with a history of ME/CFS could give blood, provided they had completely recovered and were feeling well.

However, as ME/CFS is a condition where people can relapse and become ill again, donor selection guidelines are being changed as a precaution to protect the donor’s safety by ensuring the condition is not made worse by donating blood.

This change brings donor selection guidelines for ME/CFS into line with other relapsing conditions or neurological conditions of unknown or uncertain origin, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s Disease.

Ends

For further information, please contact the NHSBT press office on 0117 969 2444, at pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk or out of hours on 07659 133583.

Notes to Editors

  • Donor selection guidelines relating to donor safety are recommended by the UK Blood Services Standing Advisory Committee on the Care and Selection of Donors, and Joint Professional Advisory Committee (JPAC)
  • The change to donor selection guidelines for ME/CFS will apply across all four UK Blood Services – the National Blood Service (NBS, part of NHS Blood and Transplant); the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS); the Welsh Blood Service (WBS); and the Northern Ireland Blood Service (NIBTS)
  • NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a Special Health Authority in the NHS. It is the organ donor organisation for the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs. Its remit also includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England and North Wales
  • In October 2009 of a study from the United States suggested a link between the virus XMRV and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This was reviewed and discussed in the relevant advisory committees. Further studies by the Centres for Disease Control in the US and a number in Europe have failed to demonstrate a link between XMRV infection and CFS. Currently there is no epidemiological evidence of a link between XMRV and CFS in the UK.

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