Michael Anderson, 28, was at Manchester Airport travelling with his work when he experienced odd behaviour from a member of the staff at Manchester Airport, who tried to pull off his ostomy bag in a pat down search.
Michaels journey with Crohn’s Disease started in 2012 which resulted in him having surgery for an Ileostomy just 3 years ago. Since then, he has travelled numerous times through this airport and never had any issues except from today (29/01/2019.)
Michael says ” I walked through the body scanner and obviously a heat source was coming from my bag on the scanner. So I get patted down which is fair enough and it happens all the time at airports, but then he starts feeling my ostomy bag through my shirt which again is fair enough and happens every time. The member of staff then starts yanking my bag through my shirt trying to pull whatever he thought it was out! I said ‘woah what are you doing?’ and he replies ‘take it off!’. I was said ‘you want me to take my shirt off?’ and so I lifted my shirt up to reveal my ostomy bag. The member of staff then continues to tell me to ‘take it off.’ I was replied ‘it’s an ostomy bag mate if it comes off you’ll be covered in shit’. With absolutely no apology or anything he then sits me down on a seat and swabs my ostomy bag for drugs and sends me on my way without saying a word. ”
“I totally understand the need to pat me down and even swab it as I’m sure people could smuggle drugs in a ostomy bag, but to yank it and try and remove it from under my shirt is a joke and has damaged my skin! Surely members of staff must get some sort of training to be sensitive to these issues? I mean, even if you didn’t know what an ostomy was it’s clearly a medical device and not a fashion accessory that I’ve just randomly attached to my stomach! They need to realise that it could shatter someone’s confidence to get them to remove their shirt and yank their bag like that. There will definitely be a complaint going in so they can brief their security staff on medical appliances and make sure nobody else has to go through what I did today.”
“I’ve flew probably 7 or 8 times since my surgery and usually they’re spot on, offer to take you in another room or something like that but I have no idea what this guy thought he was doing when he’s asking me to remove it!”
“I’ve been on the phone to several senior managers at the airport who have agreed more training is required. I’ve also offered to give up my own time to share my story with security during the training so they can have more understanding of what it is like traveling with a stoma and be 100% on being positive and educational with the intention of posting publicly was to shown Manchester Airport that clearly this isn’t an isolated incident and many others have had the courage to say its happened to them too. I am trying to force a change!”
If anyone has experienced this type of discrimination and neglect from airport staff, please report it! You can also find help when travelling abroad from stoma delivery company websites. It is also handy to get a letter from your doctor before travelling to explain your medical condition.