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Big Brother confiscates pregnant woman's insulin

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TSA Apologizes For Confiscating Pregnant Woman's Insulin, Ice Packs
Security Screener At DIA Tells Woman Insulin Vial Was An Explosives Risk

Written by Marc Stewart, 7News Reporter

POSTED: 9:55 pm MDT August 4, 2011
UPDATED: 4:31 pm MDT August 5, 2011

DENVER -- The Transportation Security Administration is apologizing to a pregnant woman, one day after she said her insulin and ice packs were confiscated by screeners at Denver International Airport.

The Aurora woman was traveling alone to a baby shower in Phoenix when she was questioned by a TSA agent as she went through security around 4 p.m. Thursday.

"He's like, 'Well, you're a risk.' I'm like, 'Excuse me?' And he's like, 'This is a risk ... I can't tell you why again. But this is at risk for explosives,'” the woman said. She asked 7NEWS not to use her name for fear of retaliation for speaking out.

"I got a bottle of nail polish. I got hair spray bottles. I got needles that are syringes. But yet I can't take through my actual insulin?” she asked.

The mother-to-be said she brought the appropriate doctor's note and the medication was labeled correctly, so she's perplexed as to why her insulin would be confiscated this time. Especially because she and her husband have traveled around the world with her medical supplies, including insulin and syringes, and have never encountered any troubles before, she said.

“When I started asking for names of people everybody scattered even more and left me crying at the TSA checkpoint," the woman said.

She said she was able to get half a vial through security, apparently unnoticed by TSA agents.

"It was at the bottom of my lunch box because they didn't search it all the way through. They just took out everything on top,” she said.

The woman has since made arrangements for additional insulin to be delivered to her while she's in Arizona.

“I’ve traveled like this for a ton of my life. And now I’m scared to death," she said.

"It made me feel upset and made me feel somewhat helpless," said the woman's husband, Aaron Nieman.

The TSA, even though they are apologizing, question the woman's story and believe there was some kind of misunderstanding.

“We talked to all of our people and they didn’t touch her insulin," said TSA spokeswoman Pat Ahlstrom.

Ahlstrom said ice packs are only allowed if they’re completely frozen and the woman’s were not.

“I talked to the supervisor, who said she was upset. She calmed down and (said) she needed ice and (the TSA agent) told her how to get ice from the concourse and went on," Ahlstrom said.

Regardless of this case, the American Diabetes Association told 7NEWS that many diabetics face obstacles and humiliation when they travel.

“I think we should, you know, make every effort like this to educate people, so it happens less often or not at all," said Dr. Michael McDermott, with the American Diabetes Association.

The following is the prepared statement TSA released on Thursday:

TSA's mission is to safely, efficiently and respectfully screen nearly 2 million passengers each day at airports nationwide.

We are sensitive to the concerns of passengers who were not satisfied with their screening experience and we invite those individuals to provide feedback to TSA through a variety of channels. We work to balance those concerns with the very real threat that our adversaries will attempt to use explosives to carry out attacks on planes.

It is the traveler's responsibility to have proper government issued identification and a boarding pass; to cooperate with applicable screening procedures and instructions and to communicate their disability or health related needs.

Liquid medications should be labeled, and those in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces (100ml) each need to be separated from other carry-on items and declared to the security officer as medically necessary. A declaration can be made verbally, in writing, or by a person's companion, caregiver, interpreter, or family member. Liquids in excess of 3.4 ounces will require additional screening.

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