Lifesaving Program Axed from State Budget

By Lindsay Wilcox
|  Friday, Mar 11, 2011  |  Updated 12:42 PM CDT
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The <a title=Texas Cord Blood Bank in San Antonio faces financial trouble since the state cut $2 million in funding, leaving its future uncertain." />

Lindsay Wilcox, NBCDFW.com

The Texas Cord Blood Bank in San Antonio faces financial trouble since the state cut $2 million in funding, leaving its future uncertain.

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The state's proposed budget has axed $2 million from a program that runs an umbilical cord blood bank.

Mary Beth Fisk, executive director of the Texas Cord Blood Bank, said it will be nearly impossible to grow the state’s cord blood inventory without the state funding.

“Approximately half the annual need of the cord blood bank has been provided to this point from the state of Texas,” she said.

With or without the state funding, the bank will maintain its current inventory of 8,500 units with the help of its private sector funds.

Dr. Joel Weinthal of Texas Oncology, who helped get the bank off the ground 10 years ago, said he hopes legislators will reconsider the cuts.

“This is one of the things we have that absolutely, positively can save lives -- children and adults,” he said.

“And for most of the patients who have these kinds of transplants, there is no other option,” he said.

Fisk said the Texas Cord Blood Bank is working with several legislators to try and get some funding back in the proposed budget, which goes for a vote in May.

Cord blood collection is an expensive process. It costs about $2,500 for every cord blood that is donated.

Donations have helped patients such as 16-month-old Winslet Seoighe, who has from a rare blood disorder. She received a stem cell transplant thanks to cord blood someone donated seven years ago.

"We will never know who made that life saving donation, but we are eternally grateful that they did,” said Tracey Seoighe, Winslet's mother.

Medical City Dallas is one of just two hospitals in the Metroplex to participate in the Texas Cord Blood Bank program. About 600 of its patients choose to donate every year.

”If you're blessed with a healthy pregnancy, that's just one little way that you can give back some of the life you've been given,” said Amy Crow, who plans to donate her umbilical cord blood when she delivers her firstborn at Medical City Dallas in a few days.

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