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Blood Service updates CFS donor policy

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The Australian Red Cross Blood Service will indefinitely defer donors who have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

This follows recent research, describing a possible link between chronic fatigue, and a retrovirus called Xenotropic Murine leukaemia virus-related Virus (XMRV).

As the Blood Service currently defers donors who have CFS, this change will delay their return to donating until there is more scientific literature on the possible viral link.

The number one priority of the Blood Service remains the safety of Australia’s blood supply.

Blood Service specialist, Dr Tony Keller, said eligibility to donate is always a balance between risk and benefit.

“There is at present no test available for CFS or XMRV, but our donor questionnaire alerts us when someone has CFS. Very few donors will be affected by this decision,” Dr Keller said.

“The science on this internationally is unclear. The recent North American research findings haven’t been supported by research undertaken in Europe, and there is currently no Australian research on XMRV.

“We will review our decision in two years time, when further studies into the virus have been done.”

The Blood Service currently has 570,000 donors a year. In the past two years, there have been only 70 donors deferred due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

We are writing to a small number of donors to notify them of this change.