Should People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia Be Blood Donors?

No. This question has been raised because of recent research suggesting that XMRV virus may be present in a higher percent of people with chronic fatigue syndrome. Because of this, blood bank officials are debating whether people with CFS should be allowed to be blood donors.

Posted on | Jacob Teitelbaum, MD | Comments ()

No. This question has been raised because of recent research suggesting that XMRV virus may be present in a higher percent of people with chronic fatigue syndrome. Because of this, blood bank officials are debating whether people with CFS should be allowed to be blood donors.


If this were the key issue, an argument could be made equally well that people with prostate cancer should not be allowed to be blood donors, as this illness is also associated with higher levels of XMRV virus. In addition, should any patient who is immune suppressed be prevented from giving blood as they are more likely to carry infections? CFS patients are likely to have multiple different infections associated with poor immune function, so although the question of XMRV gets more attention, the issue goes beyond this.


Although this is likely to become a politically and emotionally charged topic, it does not need to be.


Research has shown that people with chronic fatigue syndrome have a very significant deficiency of red blood cells themselves, which is likely a major contributor to their symptoms. Because they are also dehydrated, the blood tests performed looking for anemia come back as falsely normal. Donating blood is likely to worsen their CFS and is therefore not recommended, just as in anyone with anemia.  Instead, those with CFS should consider following our "SHINE Treatment Protocol" (Sleep, Hormonal support, Infections, Nutritional support, and Exercise as able). SHINE includes numerous measures for helping those with CFS, including measures that can help support the production of red blood cells. (SHINE has been shown to be helpful in 91% of CFS patients and is used at the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers nationally).

Blog written by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD
Dr. Teitelbaum overcame Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia in 1975, and since then has helped hundreds of thousands...