The Transportation and Security Agency (TSA) is under fire after agents in Dallas strip-searched a woman and handled her feeding tube.
John Deaton told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth that his the feeding tube implanted in his wife’s stomach was medically necessary after she had complications from gastric bypass surgery.
During a recent trip from Dallas to Minneapolis for treatment at the Mayo Clinic, Deaton and his wife were shocked when agents fiddled with the feeding tube as they checked it for explosives.
“They had physically stripped her and saw the tube coming out of her stomach, and they decided that they needed to check it for explosives, so they had to physically handle the tube,” Deaton recalled, adding that swabbing the tube for explosives put his wife at a risk for infections.
“Any time you put a harsh substance on it, you run the risk of contamination,” he explained. “They put stuff on there that we don’t know what it is and identify. She has a weak immune system as part of her medical condition, and it can be very fatal to her.”
The couple, who make the trip frequently, said the treatment was unusual.
“They will see it on their screens, ask her what it is, she’d identify it, they may pat it on the outside of her clothing, accept it and go on,” Deaton noted.
“It outrages me to think that they can get away with that because they have a single female with a medical condition that is not going to stand up to authority figures and TSA, and say, ‘Guys, this is really across the line.’”
The couple has filed a complaint in hopes that agents will be take passengers’ medical situations into account before conducting invasive searches.
TSA spokesperson Luis Casanova wouldn’t discuss the Deaton’s case, but did say agents were not supposed to handle feeding tubes.
“As I mentioned before, we respect the right to privacy of the passenger in question and will reach out directly to her,” Casanova insisted to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. “Once we have further information, I will provide a statement as necessary.”
Watch this video from NBC’ Dallas Fort-Worth, broadcast July 19, 2012.