The Associated Press
A TSA employee checks documents for passengers in line at a security checkpoint at Logan Airport in Boston on Wednesday.
Tom Sawyer said he has never been so embarrassed in his life. On November 7th, he was going through Detroit Metropolitan Airport security when TSA officials told him he needed to be patted down.
"You do what they say or you don't fly," said Sawyer.
Sawyer immediately asked to have the procedure done in a private room. Sawyer said after little debate the officials took him to a small office. Because he didn't have time to put his belt back on, Sawyer said his pants fell down as soon as he entered the room, and that's where the humiliation began.
"You wouldn't think standing with your pants down in front of two other men would be embarassing, but it was. I didn't know them," said Sawyer.
After having to ask twice to pull up his pants, Sawyer tried to tell them about his medical history. But he said TSA didn't seem to acknowledge him at all.
"I told them, 'I need to tell you my medical condition.' But he said, 'It really isn't necessary.' He just continued to tell me about the pat down. He completely ignored my three requests to tell them about my medical condition." Sawyer said with angered enthusiasm.
The 61-year-old is a bladder cancer survivor and has had to wear a urostomy bag to go to the bathroom since his surgery 3 years ago. Despite his warnings, Sawyer says the TSA official proceeded to press down his chest with an open palm until he struck the urostomy bag filled with urine.
"I had a round spot the size of a small pancake and urine was dribbling down my pants," Sawyer said. "This was so embarrassing and humiliating. I didn't have time to cleanup becasue the plane was going to go."
Sawyer was forced to wait until after take off before he could change his clothes. A few weeks later, Sawyer filed a former complaint.
The head of TSA John Pistol said in an interview with CNN that he does understand people's sensitivities, but does not plan to change the pat down policy. Moreover, experiences like this one, might not end with Tom Sawyer.
Sawyer's daughter Elizabeth Danowski is a child psychotherapist. She is concerned that the pat downs could trigger a post-traumatic reaction in her clients or other sexual abuse victims, and then be punished for it.
"You will see people having quite emotional reactions whether is be crying or aggressive behavior," Danowski said.
Tom Sawyer feels no one should be treated the way he was and says he is speaking out for all bladder cancer survivors. Sawyer says he won't make any plans to fly in the future and will never fly alone again.