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TSA Security now Humiliating Bladder Cancer survivors wearing urostomy bag which collects urine from stoma

HeartofSoul's picture
HeartofSoul
Posts: 732
Joined: Dec 2009

A retired special education teacher on his way to a wedding in Orlando, Fla., said he was left humiliated, crying and covered with his own urine after an enhanced pat-down by TSA officers recently at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
“I was absolutely humiliated, I couldn’t even speak,” said Thomas D. “Tom” Sawyer, 61, of Lansing, Mich.

Sawyer is a bladder cancer survivor who now wears a urostomy bag, which collects his urine from a stoma, or opening in his stomach. “I have to wear special clothes and in order to mount the bag I have to seal a wafer to my stomach and then attach the bag. If the seal is broken, urine can leak all over my body and clothes.”
On Nov. 7, Sawyer said he went through the security scanner at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. “Evidently the scanner picked up on my urostomy bag, because I was chosen for a pat-down procedure.”

Due to his medical condition, Sawyer asked to be screened in private. “One officer looked at another, rolled his eyes and said that they really didn’t have any place to take me,” said Sawyer. “After I said again that I’d like privacy, they took me to an office.”
Sawyer wears pants two sizes too large in order to accommodate the medical equipment he wears. He’d taken off his belt to go through the scanner and once in the office with security personnel, his pants fell down around his ankles. “I had to ask twice if it was OK to pull up my shorts,” said Sawyer, “And every time I tried to tell them about my medical condition, they said they didn’t need to know about that.”

Obama: TSA pat-downs frustrating but necessary

Before starting the enhanced pat-down procedure, a security officer did tell him what they were going to do and how they were going to it, but Sawyer said it wasn’t until they asked him to remove his sweatshirt and saw his urostomy bag that they asked any questions about his medical condition.

“One agent watched as the other used his flat hand to go slowly down my chest. I tried to warn him that he would hit the bag and break the seal on my bag, but he ignored me. Sure enough, the seal was broken and urine started dribbling down my shirt and my leg and into my pants.”

The security officer finished the pat-down, tested the gloves for any trace of explosives and then, Sawyer said, “He told me I could go. They never apologized. They never offered to help. They acted like they hadn’t seen what happened. But I know they saw it because I had a wet mark.”

Humiliated, upset and wet, Sawyer said he had to walk through the airport soaked in urine, board his plane and wait until after takeoff before he could clean up.
“I am totally appalled by the fact that agents that are performing these pat-downs have so little concern for people with medical conditions,” said Sawyer.

Skid Row Tom's picture
Skid Row Tom
Posts: 118
Joined: Apr 2010

This story made me mad as hell. As a consequence of prostate cancer, I have an artificial urinary sphincter and am taking me first plane trip since surgery on December 8th. I know the device will show up on the machines and am expecting maximum hassle. The difference between me and the guy in this story -- if I have to strip down and undergo such humiliation, I'm peeing all over them -- not myself.

Jim Blake
Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2010

I feel your pain. I also wear a urostomy pouch since I lost my prostate and bladder to cancer in March of 2001. I haven't flown since 9/11 and after hearing your story I am even more relucant to fly. I suppose if I fly again, it will be an emergency situation.
I am angered by the way you were treated.

Bonijo
Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2011

The first time I had cancer (crvical) no body warned me that strange things might happen to me. Two weeks after they released me I was in a grocery store shopping and all of a sudden I had to pee - Like 'right now'. I ran out of the store fast and peed all over myself and wanted to know why no one told me this might happen to me. I have had a lot of incidents sinse and just chaulk it up to people in the 'know' (doctors, nurses,etc) not sharing what they know. Shame to be embarressed to find things out. And then what to do in the future. I have now worn pads to eliminate that problem. If I have an accident it is ok (well, you know what I mean.) I had cancer (colorectal) again in 2003 Doctors told me both times that it did not look so good for me. I told them to do what they needed to do so I could go home and do what I needed to do. It worked out both times. And here I am wondering if I have bladder cancer or not. I will be going to the Dr. (PA) on Thurs to start (regiment) of tests I am sure. Because it feels like I have a bladder infection but I have not been lucky enough to have such minor problems before. Well, nothing to be done but to do it. My son say "It is what it is and move along with it" Ok I'm moving along. Just no more probbing, picking, digging bags that hang off poles. I had so many bags last time they needed two poles to hold them all. I was impressed :)) Well, that's all for now folks.

Babsiebob's picture
Babsiebob
Posts: 6
Joined: May 2009

I also have an ileal conduit with a urostomy bag. I don't understand how this happened, the wafer that is attached to your stomach is very sticky and you have to peel it to get it off. They must have had to get a hold of the edge of the wafer and pull hard to get it off. I would think that would almost be considered assault. I think I would file a complaint. I feel for you
Babsiebob

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