News / Halifax

Crohn’s disease sufferer from Halifax brought to tears by Calgary airport security

Frustrated and emotional, a woman suffering from chronic inflammatory disease is raising alarms over how she was treated while passing through security at Calgary International Airport this week.

Krystal Maher, 18, was on her way home to Halifax after working for three months at a Calgary camp for the disabled.

While passing through a security checkpoint shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, Maher set a metal detector off because she had accidentally left her watch on.

But she said the airport screening staff immediately pointed to a bag on her hip, claiming it was full of money.

“It’s actually my ostomy bag,” Maher said. “It’s essentially a bag full of (excretion).”

Maher wears the bag on her hip at all times; removing it would lead to waste pouring out uncontrollably.

Given that, when one security member allegedly asked Maher to take the bag off so it could be inspected, she began to cry.

“It’s just like ‘How stupid are you people?’” she said. “I feel like an ostomy is a fairly common thing . . . for them to not know what it is, is kind of ridiculous.”

Maher made it clear she’s not ashamed of her ostomy bag, but worries for others who may have only recently had one installed.

On Tuesday, she requested a formal apology from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).

A statement issued by CATSA Wednesday to Metro confirmed Maher’s complaint and apologized, “If she (Maher) feels she had an unpleasant experience at the checkpoint in Calgary. CATSA takes all complaints seriously and we are in the process of fully investigating the issue she highlighted.”

Medical history

  • Ten years ago, Krystal Maher was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory condition that affects function of the small and large intestine and, in some caes, other parts of the digestive system.
  • As a result of her disease, Maher had her colon removed. The ostomy bag installed on her hip essentially acts as her rectum. It collects waste, which can then be released into a toilet by unfastening a clip.

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