Artificial implants and airport security

By Denise Doporto
This item appears on page 36 of the August 2014 issue.
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I would like to respond to the letter written by a traveler with an artificial knee.

Starting in 1998, after my initial hip-replacement surgery, I have traveled overseas numerous times. Since 2001, I have had another hip replacement, two knee replacements and a titanium bolt placed in my shoulder. 

After each surgery, I was given a card, similar to a credit card, with my name, date of surgery, doctor, hospital, type of implant and manufacturer. Those cards stay with me in my wallet next to my medical insurance and Medicare cards.

Friends who also have had joint replacements and been given similar cards questioned the necessity of my carrying them. I told them why I do. If I am in some kind of accident and it’s necessary to do surgery, the hospital can determine which kind of joint I originally had installed and put in a similar prosthesis.

After 9/11, I told the airport security personnel in several countries about the particular implants and showed my cards. Despite my claims, I was subject to hand and wand searches. In Australia, an airport screener told me my cards were irrelevant because they could be forgeries. It was obvious that he was correct, and I never questioned it.

My last trip by air was a domestic flight from Arizona to California and, again, I told the security people of my artificial joints. Still, I had screenings by two men and a woman for over 15 minutes as each did hand and wand searches. It felt invasive and seemed unnecessary; I use a cane and am elderly.

In retrospect, I believe I was a guinea pig for them to “practice” determining whether or not I had titanium implants, in preparation for screening future passengers. It was not a bad experience, just very troubling that I could be viewed as a flight risk when I did not fit a terrorist profile.

So I would tell the above-mentioned traveler that his laminated letter from the doctor could be viewed as a forgery, too, but to carry it on the chance that it would satisfy security screeners in some locations. Some screeners can be rude, but most are just doing their jobs.

DENISE DOPORTO

Sacramento, CA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I would like to respond to the letter written by a traveler with an artificial knee.

Starting in 1998, after my initial hip-replacement surgery, I have traveled overseas numerous times. Since 2001, I have had another hip replacement, two knee replacements and a titanium bolt placed in my shoulder. 

After each surgery, I was given a card, similar to a credit card, with my name, date of surgery, doctor, hospital, type of implant and manufacturer. Those cards stay with me in my wallet next to my medical insurance and Medicare cards.

Friends who also have had joint replacements and been given similar cards questioned the necessity of my carrying them. I told them why I do. If I am in some kind of accident and it’s necessary to do surgery, the hospital can determine which kind of joint I originally had installed and put in a similar prosthesis.

After 9/11, I told the airport security personnel in several countries about the particular implants and showed my cards. Despite my claims, I was subject to hand and wand searches. In Australia, an airport screener told me my cards were irrelevant because they could be forgeries. It was obvious that he was correct, and I never questioned it.

My last trip by air was a domestic flight from Arizona to California and, again, I told the security people of my artificial joints. Still, I had screenings by two men and a woman for over 15 minutes as each did hand and wand searches. It felt invasive and seemed unnecessary; I use a cane and am elderly.

In retrospect, I believe I was a guinea pig for them to “practice” determining whether or not I had titanium implants, in preparation for screening future passengers. It was not a bad experience, just very troubling that I could be viewed as a flight risk when I did not fit a terrorist profile.

So I would tell the above-mentioned traveler that his laminated letter from the doctor could be viewed as a forgery, too, but to carry it on the chance that it would satisfy security screeners in some locations. Some screeners can be rude, but most are just doing their jobs.

DENISE DOPORTO

Sacramento, CA