TSA forces elderly leukemia patient to strip

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents screen passangers  (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images / AFP)
It took a blood transfusion to give her strength to travel by plane, but the TSA still smelled a threat.

That was the case on June 18 when officials at the Transport Security Administration ordered a pat-down on a 95-year-old leukemia patient that tried to fly out of Florida’s Northwest Regional Airport.

Wheelchair-bound Lena Reppert was on her way to Michigan to visit some family before checking into an assisted living facility when TSA officers offered the woman an ultimatum: either she remove her adult diaper to undergo a more thorough screening or stay on the ground.

Jean Weber of Destin, Florida has since filed a complaint with federal authorities after last week’s incident involving her elderly mother. Weber says TSA officials “felt something suspicious” during a routine search and needed to give Reppert a private pat-down behind closed doors. They then told Weber they had identified something “wet and firm” and that, unless the daughter wanted to remove her mother’s adult diaper in the restroom for a more comprehensive check, they wouldn’t be allowed to fly.

“It's something I couldn't imagine happening on American soil,” Weber tells the Northwest Florida Daily News. “Here is my mother, 95 years old, 105 pounds, barely able to stand, and then this.”

The TSA has since responded to the incident, issuing a statement on Sunday that reads: "While every person and item must be screened before entering the secure boarding area, TSA works with passengers to resolve security alarms in a respectful and sensitive manner."

"We have reviewed the circumstances involving this screening and determined that our officers acted professionally and according to proper procedure," it continues.

Weber has since explained that she understands the TSA’s policies but says, “I also feel that your procedure needs to be changed.”

Despite the order, which Weber claims brought her to tears, she says her mother remained “very calm” during the whole ordeal, even though she had to board the flight without underwear.

Weber asked her mother to be whisked away to the plane following the incident because she was still stuck in security with only minutes until take-off.

Reppert’s family has since reported that the woman is doing fine in Michigan.

"My mother is a trooper," Weber tells CNN.

Last week’s incident comes mere weeks after a video of a 6-year-old girl undergoing an intrusive pat-down in a Louisiana airport surfaced online and caused mass outrage from opponents of the TSA.