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Elizabeth Girl Gets Bone Marrow Transplant After Visa Flap Resolved

Yarelis Bonilla (credit: CBS 2)

Yarelis Bonilla (credit: CBS 2)

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HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A 5-year-old New Jersey girl suffering from a severe form of leukemia has received a bone marrow transplant from her older Salvadoran sister whose initial attempt to come to the United States was blocked.

Yarelis Bonilla, of Elizabeth, received the transplant Tuesday at Hackensack University Medical Center from 7-year-old Gisselle Bonilla Ramirez.

The older sister lives with the girls’ grandmother in El Salvador. She was determined to be a perfect match for a transplant.

The U.S. government twice denied a visitor visa.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) helped champion the family’s cause and fought for a humanitarian visa allowing Gisselle to come to the U.S. solely for the transplant.

“The government’s role is to ultimately protect its citizen. And to preserve their life,” Menendez said in last November.

Doctors say Yarelis will remain in the hospital for four to six weeks.

“We’re very helpful this bone marrow transplant will cure Yarelis’ leukemia, there’s a very, very good chance of that,” Dr. Alfred P. Gillio told 1010 WINS. “Without transplant there was not a very good chance that she would survive, with transplant her odds of a cure are excellent.”

Her older sister is already out and her family says she’ll return to El Salvador within the 90-day limit.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)