SEATTLE (AP) — A Michigan woman dying of leukemia hopes her embarrassing experience at a Seattle airport changes the way the Transportation Security Administration treats travelers with medical conditions.
Michelle Dunaj, 34, was making what she expects will be the last trip of her life on Oct. 2 as she departed for Hawaii.
The Roseville, Mich., woman thought she had prepared by calling the airline ahead of time, asking for a wheelchair, carrying documentation for her feeding tubes and making sure she had prescriptions for all her medications, including five bags of saline solution. But Dunaj said she received a full pat-down in the security line at Sea-Tac Airport and had to lift her shirt and pull back bandages so agents could get a good look. She said everyone else in line got a look, too.
"My issue is: It was in front of everyone, and everyone was looking at me like I was a criminal or like I was doing something wrong," Dunaj told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "It shouldn't have been in front of everyone."
Dunaj said a female agent performed the pat-down and asked her to lift up her shirt after feeling the tubes going into Dunaj's chest and abdomen. Dunaj said her suggestion for a more private pat-down was dismissed.
"I asked them if they thought that was an appropriate location, and they told me that everything was fine," she said.
She said another agent punctured one of the saline bags she was carrying, ruining it.
"I didn't want to start getting upset and swearing and causing more of a scene or issue," Dunaj said. "But it definitely wasn't handled properly."
Dunaj said that after her pat-down, she was asked to move along, as if she was responsible for holding up the line
"I thought that was a little rude," she said.
After Dunaj told her story on KOMO-TV, the TSA started looking into the situation.
"Any time a passenger requests a private screening, they should be granted one," said Lorie Dankers, spokeswoman for the Northwest Region of TSA.
"We work to make our screening procedures as minimally invasive as possible while still proving the level of security that the American people want and deserve," Dankers added in an email statement.
Travelers with disabilities can call a TSA hotline with questions about screening procedures.
Dunaj had no problems flying out of Detroit or returning to Seattle from Hawaii. She stayed with a friend at suburban Bonney Lake in western Washington, and will return to Michigan on Wednesday. She wasn't looking forward to departing from Sea-Tac, although the TSA contacted her through KOMO and offered to have a manager help her through security.
She'll enter hospice on Oct. 17 back home.
Dunaj decided to make the trip after she was told she had three to four months to live. She doesn't regret it, despite the hassles.
"Hawaii was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen," she said. "Number one on my bucket list."
She hopes her experience might change the TSA's practices or at least embolden others like her to keep trying.
"I figure if nothing else, it might help someone in the future and encourage people facing the same challenges I have faced to do what they want to do and see things before it's too late."
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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