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

Published: July 22, 2012


I make this recommendation because it is not healthy for those with CFS/FMS to donate blood.

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 done 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, our "SHINE Protocol" (Sleep, Hormonal support, Infections, Nutritional support, and Exercise as able), which has been shown to be helpful in 91% of CFS patients, includes multiple measures that also help support the production of red blood cells.

For the benefit of those with CFS or fibromyalgia, it is not a good idea, for the sake of their health, to be blood donors.

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. His newest book (June 10, 2024) is You Can Heal From Long COVID. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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