A nine-year-old aspiring pilot with a pacemaker has spoken about the ‘terrible’ ordeal he suffered at the hands of TSA at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport.
Chille Bergstrom was to travel home to Minnesota with his family on Saturday, but was denied an alternative screening process.
He was then surrounded by armed police and agents, who told his mother they have stopped terrorists using children with pacemakers.
The youngster, who was born with Godlen Hars Syndrome, has undergone 15 open heart surgeries in his short life – but still needs to have a pacemaker to survive with his four heart defects.
Because of this, they are required to always request alternative screening as he cannot go through metal detectors – but in this case, the TSA refused.
His mother Ali Bergstrom, of Wyoming, said she showed authorities the documentation proving Chille needs the alternative screening but was told they would need to request an exemption.
They never did, but were held up for more than an hour before being told they couldn’t fly.
Bergstrom wrote on Facebook that her son had told TSA agents: ‘I don’t want an exemption, I want to go through an alternate screening like I always do.’
‘He sat on my lap, crying for an hour, as we were surrounded by 18 TSA and police and were actually told by the TSA that ‘some terrorist plots use children with pacemakers’.
She also added Chille’s comments in her post.
‘They should be fired for treating heart kids like this,’ he said. ‘They were so mean and lied and wouldn’t swipe my hands for over an hour!
‘What is wrong with them? 18 people, Mom!’
The nine-year-old also added that TSA apparently lets through 95 percent of guns ‘but won’t let me through because I have a pacemaker! This needs to go viral to protect other kids!’
Chille also articulately described his ordeal in an interview with Fox 9, saying: ‘It was very scary. I thought it was my fault.’
He said that at one point, he had asked agents: ‘Could you please explain to me what’s happening right now? Because I’m not used to this.’
His mother says that’s when an agent said they wouldn’t be flying.
‘With all the years that we’ve been flying this has never happened,’ she said. ‘Usually, they are friendly, they smile, they give him a sticker, a TSA sticker.’
She added: ‘One of the TSA agents told me they’d prevented terrorist attacks using nine-year-old boys with pacemakers and children before, so I laughed and said, ‘Oh when?’
‘At that point, the TSA agent became very quiet and said, ‘Oh we’re not at liberty to discuss this.”
She added that the whole experience was discriminatory and dehumanizing – and that no one has contacted her to apologize.
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.