Karleigh’s story

We bring laughter where it is unexpected, but most needed.

Karleigh and her rainbow bravery unicorn

The impacts of Clown Doctors are “the result of a more complex, intimate human connection that develops due to the nature of the Clown Doctors being low-status, open, vulnerable, and, existing as outsiders to the medical establishment.” This was beautifully showcased through the story of Karleigh, Dr. Munjong and the rainbow unicorn.

Karleigh is a 14-year-old girl who was born with a metabolic disorder, requiring a liver transplant when she was just 18 months old. Her condition has meant years of regular hospital admissions and blood tests, resulting in Karleigh developing trypanophobia – a needle phobia.

She first met the Clown Doctors in Princess Margaret Hospital in 2007 and has loved seeing them again during her subsequent visits to Perth Children’s Hospital.

“Her eyes light up every time she sees them. The Clown Doctors are the only people in hospital who Karleigh trusts won’t hurt her, they are her friends, they help her to be brave and have fun. She looks out for the Clown Doctors each time she visits PCH.”

Karleigh’s psychologist Hans-willem van Hall, Senior Clinical Psychologist at the Perth Children’s Hospital, called upon Perth-based Clown Doctor Dr. Munjong to help Karleigh cope with her phobia of procedures involving needles.

Dr Munjung discovered that Karleigh had been learning about dreamtime animals at school and suggested that her unicorn stuffed toy could be like a dreamtime animal, ‘a bravery unicorn’ he called it. She thought it was a wonderful idea!