TSA agent escorts dying woman through Sea-Tac for trip home

TSA agent escorts dying woman through Sea-Tac for trip home »Play Video
A TSA agent (left) escorts Michelle Dunaj (right) through Sea-Tac Airport on Oct. 10, 2012.
SEATTLE -- Tears flowed Wednesday as Michelle Dunaj made what she says is her final walk through Sea-Tac Airport.

She's dying of leukemia, and headed home to Michigan after saying her last goodbyes to family in Pierce County.

"It's sad," she said. "I mean, nobody thinks they are going to die at 34 or that their life is going to be short."

Dunaj says she was humiliated during a TSA security screening at Sea-Tac last week on her way to a trip to Hawaii.

Dunaj said screeners at Sea-Tac Airport made her pull up her shirt to check under bandages from recent surgeries, and refused to give her a private search when she requested one. A machine couldn't get a reading on her saline bags, she said, so a TSA agent forced one open, contaminating the fluid she needs to survive.

But the agency says that's not what happened.

"At no point did a TSA officer open the passenger's medically necessary liquids and the passenger was never asked to remove or pull off any bandages," the TSA said in a statement. "After reviewing video from the security checkpoint, we have determined that our screening procedures were followed.

"That isn't true," said Dunaj in response to TSA's statement. "They absolutely did open up one of my saline bags. I was asked to lift up my shirt and pull back the dressing."

With other passengers staring, Dunaj said her request for privacy was denied.

"They just said that it was fine; the location we were at was fine," she said, "and I didn't feel that it was fine, because everybody was looking at me." Under TSA's policy, passengers can request a private screening with a witness present.

The TSA has so far turned down KOMO News' request to see the footage. TSA said its footage does not contain audio and therefore is inconclusive on whether Dunaj did, in fact, request a private screening.

Wednesday, a TSA agent escorted Dunaj through the security checkpoint. She was grateful, but wants to keep her embarrassment from happening to anyone else.

"I just don't want any other people who have special needs, whether it be medically or otherwise, to have to go through the same thing," she said.