Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dolls with shunts, or Hydrochephalus dolls...

Some of my favorite doll orders are for Special Angel Dolls.. These are dolls made with special features to match a child's special needs.
This cutie is a shunt doll. Her shunt is in the back left side of her head with the tube running down the left side of her chest and the belly scar to the left of her belly button.

I started making the Special Angel dolls about 7 or so years ago..It really wasn't my idea, but rather a very sweet Mom who wrote and asked me if I could put a shunt in a doll.. I didn't even know what a shunt was! This mom was super helpful and gave me all kinds of info on them, gave me links to websites that would help me understand them and answered every question I had.. 
The very first shunt doll I made was for this little sweetheart.  

I will always remember this little girl as the start of the Special Angel Dolls ;o)

My husband and I started going through craft stores and Home Depot looking for supplies I could use.. I took a bit to figure it all out, but this Mom sure made it easier with all her wonderful help! 
This cutie has beautiful eyes and wears glasses, so her doll does , too.
Her shunt bump and scar are in her hairline, so her doll's is, too.

Before long, I received another order for a shunt doll, then another and another... Now, 7 years later, I've made so many hydrochephalus dolls, I've lost count.. 

I had a company who supplies shunts to hospitals write and ask if I could make a doll with an actual shunt and tubing (they provided).. They asked if I could add some sort of clear fabric down the front of the doll and on the back of the head showing what the system looked like... They wanted this doll to use as an educational tool for children who were about to have one surgically implanted..  I used a clear sewable vinyl product to sew a "pocket" to slide the shunt and tubing in so it was visable.. I wish I had a picture of that doll, but unfortunately, it crashed along with my computer....

But that doll was actually incredibly helpful to me because I got to feel what a real shunt looked like before it's inserted in the head, plus I got a feel for the tubing.. Wonderfully helpful experience!


One of my fondest memories is of a large group of Hydro dolls that traveled to Sweden to their new homes. A woman who's son had a shunt contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to make dolls for each child in their Hydro group.. Her name is Merja and I still hear from her from time to time.. What a great experience! 

I attempted to add a sign in Swedish on the side of the box declaring the box to be fragile and handle with care.. I'm not sure what I actually wrote, but Merja did seem to find humor in whatever it was.. She never did tell me what it actually said.. 

The internet has sure made our world a lot smaller.. If it weren't for the internet, I never would have met so many wonderful people from all over the world.. It's been a wonderful ride!

Each shunt doll has the shunt bump on the head, in the back, on the top, in the hairline, on the right or on the left, where ever it's actually located on the real doll :o)  There's a tube running down to the neck from the shunt and continuing down the front of the chest to the tummy, where a scar is placed to match the child's scar.  The shunt bump can be felt through the doll's "skin" on the head and the tube running down the front can also be felt and seen slightly.. A scar is also added to the shunt bump area, usually in the shape of a horseshoe, unless another shape is requested.. In short hairdo's, like the one shown below,  I can add the scar through the hair... I try to work with whatever the customer would like.. As long as it's something I can work with, I'm more than willing to try.. 

Shortly after I was asked to make a hydro doll, I started receiving requests for dolls with missing limbs, then on to prosthetics, scars from surgery's, hearing aids, cochlear implants and more.. 

This is Lil Owen.. He's a shunt doll and was donated to the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite
If you see him there, give him a hug for me :o)


I very much believe that people cross our paths for a reason.. I feel so incredibly blessed to have had that wonderful Mom cross my path 7 years ago and ask me if I could make a shunt doll...
She started me on this particular journey and I'll be forever grateful to her. 

I've had a lot of people writing me asking questions about the Special Angel Dolls. 
You can get lots of info from my website:
Karens Kids or/and
from the Special Angel Page.
Ordering info can be found here:

But if you still have questions, feel free to email and ask ;o)
karen @ karenskottage.org (no spaces)



1 comment:

  1. Nice blog and so informative thank you for sharing us.

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