The state’s first public bank for storing umbilical cord blood opened last week as part of a growing movement to increase the nation’s supply.

Cord Blood transplants could help the nearly 35,000 people in US who suffer each year from life-threatening diseases, according to the National Bone Marrow Program, which maintains a global registry of cord-blood units.

The Texas Cord Blood Bank is run by the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center in San Antonio and is one of at least 20 such public banks nationwide. Bank organizers think its location in a heavily Hispanic region will benefit a population whose cord-blood supply trails other groups.