A Dallas-area hospital has become the Texas Cord Blood Bank’s first donor collection site in North Texas — the fourth donor site in Texas.

The Texas Cord Blood Bank is a division of the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center in San Antonio. The Texas Legislature created the nonprofit program in 2001 to establish a statewide cord blood bank.

After years of planning, the Texas Cord Blood Bank first began collecting umbilical cord blood at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio in June 2005. Since then, new collection sites were opened at Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen and Valley Baptist Medical Center-Brownsville.

Medical City has begun collecting stem cells from umbilical cord blood. Umbilical cord blood, which is normally discarded after a baby is born, is naturally rich in blood-producing cells.

Starting Wednesday, expectant mothers at the Dallas hospital are being asked to complete a questionnaire that includes their medical histories. There is no charge for donating umbilical cord blood.

These cells can be used as an alternative to bone marrow transplants to treat cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma; various blood disorders, such as sickle-cell anemia; and severe immune-system disorders.

Through this program, physicians drain cord blood from the umbilical cord and placenta shortly after a baby is delivered. Collections are then shipped to the Texas Cord Blood Bank in San Antonio where the blood is processed and tested.

If the blood meets all quality standards, it is then stored and made available to transplant centers. If a unit of blood can be matched with a patient in need, the Texas Cord Blood Bank will make that unit available to that patient.

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