ME sufferers staged a protest outside the Department of Health in Whitehall on the first day that their blood was banned from being used in blood transfusions. ME patients are banned from donating blood from 1st Nov 2010. According to NHS Blood and Transplant it is “as a precaution to protect the donor’s safety by ensuring their condition is not made worse by donating blood”.
The ME patients I spoke to believe that it is not to protect the donor but the recipient of their blood.
This would raise an interesting question: ME sufferers are told by the medical profession that the cause of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is psychological and not physiological. Then why is the safe use of their blood now in doubt? This suggests that ME is caused by something in the blood, perhaps something like XMRV.
XMRV, short for Xenotropic Murine Leukaemia Virus, a retrovirus, discovered in 2006, is an infectious retrovirus of the same family as HIV.
In the USA, researchers discovered in 2009 that there was a strong link between ME/CFS and XMRV (cited by Lombardi/Ruscetti in Science) and later in 2010 Murine Leukaemia viruses were also found in ME patients as shown in the PNAS publication of the Alter/Lo Study.
The UK is not unique in taking the step to ban blood from being taken from ME patients, other countries have also done so, but at least in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA, it has been admitted that they have imposed the ban to protect the public from the potential risk of infection from the newly discovered virus XMRV.
At the moment, there are 250,000 ME patients in the UK and 2.7 million worldwide. There is no cure or effective treatment.
Photographs by Mario Mitsis