Blood donation – statement by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service

This statement was spotted this evening in an FAQ section on the website of the Irish Blood Tranfusion Service.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I have / have had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Can I give blood?

No you cannot give blood if you currently have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or if you have had it in the past.

CFS is also knows as M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome. Prior to early August 2010 donors who had a history of CFS/ME could give blood, provided that they had completely recovered and were feeling well. On 9th August 2010, we introduced a permanent exclusion for donors who have ever had CFS/ME even if they had fully recovered. We changed the guidelines because:

Donor Safety:

CFS/ME is a condition where people can relapse and become ill again. We were concerned that there was a theoretical risk (i.e. a very small risk) that donating blood could make symptoms worse or provoke a relapse.

Recipient Safety:

Scientists have recently identified a possible link between CFS/ME and a virus called XMRV. A lot of research is being done in this area at present, and the results are conflicting. Some studies have found no link between CFS/ME and XMRV. Even if further research proves that there is a definite link between CFS/ME and XMRV, this does not mean that the virus causes the disease.

Despite the fact that the link has not been proven, we took the decision to change our guidelines, as a precautionary measure, to protect blood recipients (i.e. patients who receive blood) until more is known about XMRV.

We will keep abreast of developments in this area and will review our guidelines if further data become available.

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