Update: 11:30 a.m. Oct. 10:
TSA confirmed that it reviewed the video and has determined that it followed screening procedures. According to TSA, at no point did a TSA officer open the passenger’s medically necessary liquids and the passenger was never asked to remove or pull off any bandages.
A woman dying of leukemia says the Transportation Security Administration officers at the Seattle-Tacoma airport embarrassed her on her way to an “end of life” trip to Hawaii.
Local ABC affiliate KOMO reported that Michelle Dunaj carried a large amount of prescription drugs with her to the airport. A machine couldn’t get a reading on her saline bags and a TSA agent forced one open, contaminating the liquid inside.
A TSA agent also reportedly denied Dunaj’s request for a private screening. “They just said the location we were at was fine,” Dunaj told the KOMO.
TSA agents required Dunaj to pull up her shirt and pull back the bandages that held her feeding tubes in place, the TV station reported. The feeding tubes were there because Dunaj’s organs were failing.
“It shouldn’t have happened that way. They should be more respectful of people,” Dunaj said.
Dunaj told KOMO she called Alaska Airlines ahead of time to request a wheelchair and to ask how her medicines should be separated for the security line. “I did everything they asked me to do, so I didn’t think there would be an issue,” she said.
“When someone wants to take a trip, especially what I call an ‘end of life’ trip because you want to see your family and friends, it’s even more important than taking a trip.”
A TSA spokesman told ABC News the agency was aware of the complaint and was reviewing the circumstances.
“TSA security officers are trained to work with each traveler to ensure a respectful screening process,” the TSA said in a statement. “Despite advances in technology, a physical pat down is still necessary in some cases to resolve an alarm at the walk through metal detector or an anomaly detected by advanced imaging technology.
“TSA officers are trained to perform pat downs in a dignified manner and, at any point, passengers can request a private screening with a witness present. We are sensitive to passengers concerns about their screening experience and take every passenger’s complaint seriously. When TSA learns of a passenger complaint, we will look into it to determine if proper procedures were followed and will take appropriate action, if warranted. We work to make our screening procedures as minimally invasive as possible while still providing the level of security that the American people want and deserve.”
This isn’t the first time a person with special needs has claimed mistreatment at the hands of TSA agents. A Fort Worth, Texas, woman on her way to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota said she was “humiliated” by the TSA agents at Dallas-Love Field airport. The woman claimed she was subject to a pat-down because of her gastric tube. She also said her food, part of a special diet, was thrown away.
At the time the incident was reported, a TSA spokesman told ABC News the woman was pulled aside for the pat down because she set off the alarm on the imaging technology at the security checkpoint. She had not disclosed to the agents that she had a medical device and required special procedures, so she went through security like any other passenger.
TSA has a helpline called TSA Cares to assist travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. When a passenger calls TSA Cares, a representative provides assistance, giving information about screening that is relevant to the passenger’s specific disability or medical condition, so the passenger will know what to expect when going through security screening.