An airline passenger outfitted with a urine bag for medical reasons had to sit through his flight soaked in urine after a TSA agent dislodged his bag during an aggressive security pat-down. Nearly a month later, he finally received an apology from TSA chief John Pistole.
Tom Sawyer, who wears a urostomy bag as a result of a bout with bladder cancer, explained his medical condition to a TSA agent at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Nov. 7 after agents noticed something under his shirt during an X-ray scan of his body. When agents told him he’d have to undergo a pat-down, Sawyer asked for it to be conducted in a private room, to which the agent complied.
But Sawyer says the agent showed little sensitivity or patience in conducting the pat-down and, as a result, dislodged the cap on the urostomy bag, releasing urine onto his clothes and body. The agent offered no apology or even acknowledgment of what he’d done, and Sawyer was reduced to tears as he dealt with the humiliation of having to face other passengers in his condition. With no time to change clothes before his flight, Sawyer was forced to endure the journey to Florida in urine-soaked clothes.
“It was extremely upsetting,” he told the Detroit News.
On Monday, after his plight made national headlines, TSA chief John Pistole called Sawyer to apologize. Sawyer told Pistole that agents needed more training to be able to identify medical equipment and know how to handle it properly.
“They need to know what it looks like, how it functions. They obviously do not know,” he told the newspaper, adding that he refused to fly again for the time being.