EMEA calls for Europe-wide ban on blood donation from ME/CFS patients

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Contamination Risk to Health of Millions of European Citizens

The European ME Alliance (EMEA) is calling on Europe's health ministers to initiate an immediate Europe-wide prohibition of blood donation from people who have been diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS).

This follows the decision by the UK government to issue a permanent, lifetime ban all ME patients (including those who have "recovered") from giving blood. The Alliance has also written directly to the European Health Commissioner urging him to enforce such a ban.

The UK ban follows similar action from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In USA American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) has advised its membership to actively discourage potential donors who have been diagnosed with ME/CFS from donating blood or blood components and the American Red Cross has not only implemented the AABB recommendations but has gone further and ordered an indefinite deferral for donors who reveal a history of a medical diagnosis of ME/CFS.

In Europe the National Blood Transfusion Services of Malta have been deferring donors permanently if they have a history of ME/CFS and the Belgian Red Cross has for some time refused to accept ME/CFS patients as blood donors.

EMEA believe such a prohibition is not only wise but is a necessary and urgent action that needs to be taken until more research can be performed. Otherwise there is a great risk to the safety of blood supplies and to the health of citizens within Europe.

The reason for banning blood donations from patients diagnosed with ME/CFS is, in EMEA's view, clearly a consequence of biomedical research which has shown that there is a possible infectious virus which may be transmissible via blood.

Since research published in Science magazine in October 2009 by the Whittemore-Peterson Institute, the National Cancer Institute and the Cleveland Clinic showed the possibility of a link between ME/CFS and  a gammaretrovirus - xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) further research groups are now actively engaged in replication and validation studies.

EMEA have also suggested that European health ministers convene in London in May 2011, at the time of the 6th Invest in ME International ME/CFS Biomedical Research Conference, in order to meet with the leading experts and to hear of the latest biomedical research into ME/CFS and experiences in diagnosing and treating this disease.

The European ME Alliance believes that the seriousness of this situation and the risk to the public warrants an immediate prohibition of blood donation from ME/CFS patients in order to ensure that wider transmission and infection may be avoided.

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