First Study of Organ Donation by CFS Patients Reported in Transplantation

Association News, Journal Highlights | 26. Mar, 2011 by | 0 Comments

By K. Kimberly McCleary, President & CEO

In the April 15, 2011, issue of the journal Transplantation, Rajeev Desai and James Neuberger of the NHS Blood and Transplant (United Kingdom) report the results of a small retrospective study of 10 deceased solid organ donors who had been diagnosed with CFS (as defined by Fukuda) and the health of the recipients of their organs. In a Letter to the Editor, Desai and Neuberger state that none of the 18 organ recipients had developed CFS in the post-transplant follow-up period (average 38 months, range 15-71 months). The donors had donated a total of 27 organs: 17 kidneys, 6 livers, 2 lungs, 1 heart and 1 pancreas. They conclude with the suggestion that there is no justification for excluding those with CFS from organ donation, due to the shortage of organs and significant mortality of those awaiting transplants.

The authors acknowledge the conflicting evidence for XMRV infection in CFS and indicate that transmission of viruses by solid-organ transplantation is well-recognized in cases of hepatitis B and C and HIV. There is generally more aggressive disease in the recipient than there was in the donor due to immunosuppression. This study was aimed at whether organ transplants could transmit CFS and the report does not reflect testing either donors or recipients for XMRV. In this particular study, the CFS patients who donated organs were deceased, so the impact of transplantation on the donor was not evaluated or addressed.

The Solve ME/CFS Initiative has long recommended that CFS patients not donate either blood or organs. Here is our statement and other information about these important issues.


Safety of Solid-Organ Transplantation from Donors with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Desai R, Neuberger J. Transplantation. Vol. 91, No. 7. 2011 Apr 15: e51-52.

K. Kimberly McCleary has served as the Association’s chief staff executive since 1991.

March 26, 2011