Adrianna DiNinno, 3 1/2, craned her neck in her room in the bone marrow transplant unit at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, ignoring her mother, a family friend, a reporter, a photographer and a Children's spokeswoman.
She wanted Boo.
"Booooooooooo!" she shouted again, as everyone else in the room laughed; Boo was several rooms away.
Tim Whitfield, a housekeeper on the ninth floor at Children's in Lawrenceville, dubbed "Boo" by Adrianna, came to the doorway. Adrianna summoned him in. He put on a flimsy, long-sleeved yellow gown and purple latex gloves, a requirement to enter Adrianna's room.
Adrianna was eager to show Mr. Whitfield a poster advertising the sixth annual DVE Rocks for Children's Radiothon Sept. 12. The poster featured a photograph of a smiling Adrianna.
Adrianna has cartilage-hair hypoplasia, a rare disorder characterized by dwarfism, a weakened immune system and gastrointestinal disorders. She has spent all but 59 weeks of her life in hospitals and has undergone multiple surgeries and a cord blood transplant.
Two of her doctors with the division of blood and marrow transplantation and cellular therapies at Children's, Paul Szabolcs, and Mark Vander Lugt, said they're taking her treatment week by week.
The cord blood transplant was done a little more than four months ago, the doctors said. Dr. Szabolcs said he hopes her immune system will "take off" around six months post-transplant. At that point, the doctors hope Adrianna will be able to take brief trips out of the hospital and perhaps sleep in a Ronald McDonald House instead of at Children's.
That will be important come Dec. 29, when Adrianna is scheduled to see a live "Yo Gabba Gabba!" show in Upper Darby.
"It's only for a night, so I'm pretty confident she'll be OK," said Christina DiNinno of Braddock, Adrianna's mother. A trip to Disney World was canceled because Adrianna couldn't be away from the hospital for that long. Ms. DiNinno said the two-day trip to Upper Darby will be the farthest Adrianna has traveled from the Pittsburgh area.
Randi Erisman, a Braddock resident and former AmeriCorps worker, met Adrianna after she started the Braddock Smiles program, which provides free or low-cost portraits to families that otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it. Adrianna was one of the program's first smiles.
Since then, Ms. Erisman has been smitten, bringing her sons, Brackyn, 4, and Bladeyn, almost 3, to visit Adrianna regularly.
"Really, she's grown up in the hospital," Ms. Erisman said. It shows -- Adrianna is conversational, confident and sassy and has no problem telling adults what she wants. "She is this bright, spirited little girl, who can speak to you in full sentences," Ms. Erisman said. "She uses these words, and I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, little girl.' "
Ms. Erisman created a page on the personal-cause "crowdfunding" site GoFundMe to raise money for the December trip. As of press time, she'd raised $1,225 of the $1,500 goal. Ms. Erisman said if she raises more than $1,500, it will go to help Ms. DiNinno pay bills.
Ms. DiNinno is unable to work because caring for Adrianna is basically a full-time job, she said, adding that Adrianna's father is not in the picture and does not help financially. She said Adrianna's Social Security and disability benefits "get [them] by."
Adrianna was hesitant to talk about anything other than "Yo Gabba Gabba!," the Nick Jr. television show, earlier this week.
She chatted about a tea party planned for Saturday with two characters from the show, Foofa and Brobee, noting Foofa is her favorite "because she's pink." Ms. Erisman's sons will also attend the tea party.
"She's crazy about my older son," Ms. Erisman said.
Dr. Szabolcs said Adrianna is about 80 percent of the way through "the toughest things" after a cord blood transplant. In the next two to three months, he said, he hopes her immune system will recover to the point where doctors aren't worried about diseases like the flu.
"She's been sick for a long time, and she's been a trooper," Dr. Szabolcs said.
To donate to Adrianna's December trip, visit www.gofundme.com/3vk2zw.
Annie Siebert: email@example.com, 412-263-1613 or on Twitter @AnnieSiebert.