There are things to like about it. My absolute
favorite bit is where it says "CFS (also called, more
descriptively, myalgic encephalitis)."
The symptoms list is better than most; it mentions
post-exertional malaise, and overall makes it sound
serious. In the severity section it says “CFS
produces very significant disability with substantial
disruption of activities of daily living among those
meeting strict case definitions,” so at least they’re
not saying it’s too trivial to worry about.
However, in the section on screening questions, it
says “No sensitive or specific question is feasible
for CFS.” How about, “Have you been diagnosed with
And then they say “The rate at which potential donors
carrying a criteria based diagnosis of CFS would
present to donor centers is unknown, but probably low
in light of the associated disability.” In other
words, they’re probably too sick to get to the donor
center anyway. That’s probably an accurate guess, but
I wouldn’t want to bet the blood bank on it.
And of course, the most discouraging part is that,
while they do say that it would be prudent to defer
those with an XMRV diagnosis, they don’t think that
prudence dictates deferring those with ME/CFS. It
makes it seem as though they are more concerned with
whether they could be held responsible for someone
contracting the disease than they are about whether
someone contracts it.
In a way, I shouldn’t mind; being deferred from
donating blood might just add to the stigma ME/CFS
patients already face. But I hate the thought of even
one more person getting this, if it could be
prevented. Couldn't they act, as the politicians say,
"out of an abundance of caution"?