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Bladder cancer survivor has new run-in with TSA

Thomas Sawyer, a 62-year-old bladder cancer survivor who made headlines last November after a pat-down left him covered in his own urine, has filed a new complaint with the Transportation Security Administration.

A Michigan bladder cancer survivor says TSA agents removed his urostomy bag, soaking his pants, despite warning. WILX reporter Rachel Thomas has the story.

Sawyer, who wears a urostomy bag that collects his urine through an opening in his abdomen, said he was traveling through Detroit Metro Airport on July 14 on his way to Orlando when he was singled out for a pat-down.

“Before I could even get (out) the words, ‘I want this done privately,’ the agent began patting me down in public,” said Sawyer. “I said ‘Whoa! I have a medical condition.’  He said, ‘I know,’ and continued the pat-down.”

TSA policy states that travelers “should be offered a private screening before the beginning of a pat-down inspection if the pat-down will require the lifting of clothing and/or display of a covered medical device.” 

Sawyer, of Houghton Lake, Mich., believes the policy was violated and filed a formal complaint with the TSA on July 20, after he returned from his trip.

“I just don't get it. Why can't the Detroit TSO agents follow the procedures? This pat-down was rough and not done appropriately,” said Sawyer. “The screener squeezed my bag several times and they are not supposed to even touch it.”

However, the seal on his urostomy bag did not break this time, Sawyer told msnbc.com, despite news reports claiming that he was once again left covered in urine.

TSA spokesperson Greg Soule said the agency takes every passenger’s claim seriously. “We are reviewing the circumstances surrounding this passenger’s screening to determine if the proper procedures were followed,” he said.

Last November, Sawyer received a personal apology from TSA administrator John Pistole after a pat-down at the Detroit airport left him crying and "humiliated." Sawyer later traveled to Washington, D.C,. at Pistole’s request, to give the TSA input on how the agency’s screeners might better handle passengers with medical conditions.

The TSA has established a coalition of more than 70 organizations to help the agency understand the concerns of travelers with disabilities and medical conditions, including those with ostomy bags. Screeners were trained on a modified procedure earlier this year that allows passengers with ostomy bags, in most circumstances, to perform a self pat-down of the appliance with a glove, which could then be screened for explosives.

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Find more by Harriet Baskas on Stuck at The Airport.com and follow her on Twitter.