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ME patients face blood donation ban

8th October 2010

New safety guidelines have ruled that from 1 November patients with ME will no longer be able to donate blood in the UK.

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Health chiefs say this is to protect people with ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome.

However, the ME Association said it believed the move was motivated by concerns that the illness may be caused by a virus similar to HIV that can be passed on via blood, though it has said the move is a "well-judged approach".

The current position with ME patients is that they are allowed to give blood if they are in remission from their condition.

The ban is not expected to have a major impact on the level of blood donation in the UK
Experts do not know what causes ME though US scientists recently it to a retrovirus known as XMRV after finding it in the blood of many patients.

However, the NHS Blood and Transplant position is that "currently there is no epidemiological evidence of a link between XMRV and CFS in the UK".

The ME Association's medical advisor Dr Charles Shepherd said: “In the current state of uncertainty about a possible viral link a ban is a perfectly sensible measure to take in case it is caused by a retrovirus.

“Although people with ME often want to donate blood, they make up a small number of the many thousands of donations the NHS receives each year.”

Seven thousand units of blood a day are needed to meet the needs of NHS Blood and Transplant.

 

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