ANN ARBOR, MICH., AUG. 20 -- Four-year-old Cecilia Cichan, the sole survivor of the second worst airline disaster in U.S. history, regained consciousness early today, and promptly asked for "mother" and "demanded" a doll she carried aboard the fatal flight, her grandfather said.
Nurses brought the so-called miracle girl a substitute doll from a room overflowing with teddy bears, balloons, flowers, dolls and other gifts sent her by well-wishers touched by her dramatic ordeal. Her parents and 6-year-old brother were among the at least 156 people killed in the Sunday crash of Northwest Airlines Flight 255 at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Later, she underwent four hours of surgery at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital here. Doctors made several skin grafts on her severely burned arms and legs and performed other burn care, hospital spokesman Michael Harrison said.
"Everything worked out just beautifully," Anthony Cichan, the girl's grandfather, said in a late afternoon interview. "The doctors were very pleased. She's not out of it by a long ways, but she's moving in the right direction."
Cichan, a Maple Glen, Pa., real estate investor, was excited that the child had uttered her first words since the crash and had been able to identify herself and "tell the nurses that she had to go to the bathroom."
"She said, 'My name is Cecilia Cichan,' " he said earlier on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"She asked for her mother and her grandpop and later on she demanded her doll. She didn't ask for it. She demanded it."
Cichan has become a celebrity at the University of Michigan Medical Center here as the spokesman for the only survivor of the crash. As he walked down hospital hallways today, he was stopped repeatedly by people offering words of encouragement and sympathy.
"It's overwhelming, simply overwhelming," he said in an interview in one of the hallways. As he spoke, a hospital employe brought him two new floral arrangements.
The card on one said, "Our prayers for your miracle -- the family of David Dodds, copilot of Flight 255."
Cichan read the card, then turned away, momentarily speechless. "Overwhelming," he said once again.
Dodds, 35 of Galena, Ill., was killed in the crash, as was Cecilia's father, Michael Cichan, a botany professor at Arizona State University; her mother, Paula, who celebrated her 33rd birthday last Friday, and her brother David. The family was returning to their home in Tempe, Ariz., after visiting relatives in the Philadelphia area.
The card from Dodds' family was one of hundreds that arrived here since the heavily bandaged and barely recognizable Cecilia was identified late Monday by her relatives. The main clues to her identity were a chipped front tooth and purple polish on her fingernails.
Among the gifts she has received are 16 teddy bears -- including one that talks -- a 3-foot tall doll that walks, a 4-foot high tiger and a 6-foot long get-well card from the Little Lamb Nursery here in Ann Arbor. "We're holding our faith for you," a boy named Douglas wrote on the card.
Packages have arrived from Memphis, Chicago, Dallas, York, Pa., Kingston, Mass., and Woodberry, Minn. Telephone calls have come from Britain and New Zealand. "To a beautiful little girl. My prayers are with you. Hope you get well soon," said a card from Sharon Spencer, a former flight attendant from Washington, D.C.
Kurt and Elizabeth, aged 5 and 7, brought their total savings of $3 to WNIC, a Dearborn radio station that also is collecting donations.
A woman identifying herself only as Laurel dropped off a letter with the following message: "I don't have much money. So I'm sending you a four-leaf clover from my yard. Four-leaf clovers bring good luck. You are already lucky, but maybe this will help even more. Please keep smiling. You are beautiful."
Dean Lidgard, assistant administrator of Mott hospital, has set aside a separate room for the gifts. He said the hospital has had several highly publicized heart and kidney transplant cases involving children that had touched people in a similar way, but nothing quite like this Cecilia.
"She is very special. She's a symbol of hope in a great tragedy. The situation is really unique."
Cecilia, cradled in a woman's arms, was pulled from a smoldering pile of metal so mangled that rescue workers were unable to tell for certain if it was part of the jetliner or an auto destroyed in the crash.
She suffered third degree burns over 30 percent of her body, a concussion, a broken left leg, a broken collar bone and numerous cuts and bruises.
She was listed as "serious but stable" in an intensive care unit. Hospital spokesman Harrison said it would be up to a week before doctors know how successful today's skin graft operation went.
Doctors, he said, "are very pleased and convinced she's going to make a good recovery."
"I only wish you could have seen her before this," the girl's grandfather said today. "You'd be amazed at what a dynamic girl she is."
Meanwhile, Associated Press reported that nearly 200 mourners, from relatives to people who simply wanted to show concern, packed a Baptist church in Detroit today for a prayer vigil for the victims of the crash.
A multidenominational group of ministers conducted the ecumenical service, asking the congregation to search for a candle of hope from God.
"We must remind all people in this society that God has not forgotten us in this tragedy," said the Rev. William Carleton Ardrey. "We must look to him for hope in the hour of darkness."