Rare Disease Day is meant to raise awareness about exactly the kind of genetic skin condition that Jordan Flake shares with her one-year-old son, Jackson.
The international observance, which fell Thursday, puts the spotlight on “orphan diseases” — disorders that affect a small percentage of the population.
And although Flake said she was glad that her skin condition has garnered attention, she expressed dismay at the incident itself.
“I have never been so humiliated in my life,” Flake wrote Thursday in a Facebook post, claiming American Airlines discriminated against her and her child by removing them from a South Carolina-bound flight from Texas.
American Airlines said it is looking into the incident and has offered an apology.
Flake could not immediately be reached for comment.
On Thursday, after spending several days seeing off her husband before his deployment, Flake and her son began their journey home to Columbia — checking their luggage, passing through security and settling into their seats on the plane, she wrote on Facebook and LoveWhatMatters.com. Flake did not specify whether her husband is in the military.
As the plane readied for takeoff, Flake wrote on Facebook, an American Airlines employee asked the men in the adjacent seats to get up, then “quietly asked me about ‘my rash’ and if I had a letter from a doctor stating it was OK for me to fly. “I explained to him that it was called Ichthyosis and it was a genetic skin condition.”
Flake said the airline employee Googled the condition and returned to the crew standing near the jet bridge, where they had a brief discussion.
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“He came back and said he apologized, but we ‘wouldn’t be able to fly,’ and we ‘had to get off the plane,’” Flake recounted, adding that the employee, who was called by the attendant crew, was “very helpful and mad about the situation.”
Even with his help, Flake was unable to retrieve her checked baggage, she said, and she and her son had to stay at a hotel overnight.