South Florida specialists treat rare condition that can affect multiple organs

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – A rare but potentially deadly disease called sarcoidosis is three times more likely to affect African Americans than Caucasians.

A team of South Florida specialists are now helping patients deal with the potentially severe impact of this chronic condition.

Life wasn’t always fun and games for Glenn Forshee.

For years he struggled with excessive coughing and labored breathing.

It got so bad he needed oxygen support.

“I went from three liters of oxygen in 2019, between 2019 and 2021. I went from three liters to six liters then I even had double tanks,” Forshee said.

But he was ultimately diagnosed with a condition called sarcoidosis which leads to inflammation in a variety of organs.

“Most frequently it creates an inflammation in the lungs or in the mediastinal lymph nodes, it makes the lymph nodes enlarged and it can develop into a condition called pulmonary fibrosis,” said Dr. Tiago Machuca Chief of the Division of Lung Transplantation at Miami Transplant Institute, which is a part of Jackson Health.

Along with the lungs and lymph nodes, sarcoidosis can impact the heart, nervous system, skin and eyes.

Research suggests that a combination of genetics and environmental factors sets off a response in the immune system that triggers the inflammation in various organs but the exact cause is unknown.

Machuca said Sarcoidosis it’s typically diagnosed through biopsies and imaging tests.

“It’s something that is coming to us more and more frequently and we some relationship with sarcoidosis in patients after 9-11,” he said.

Once the disease advanced to his lungs Forshee developed pulmonary fibrosis and ultimately underwent a double lung transplant.

Now, a year later, he’s able to enjoy life again.

“They have this slogan at Jackson ‘miracles made daily’, well thanks to Dr. Machuca at MTI, I’m one of the miracles made daily,” Forshee said.

The severity of sarcoidosis is different from person to person.

In some cases it’s temporary and goes away on its own or through treatment with medications, but, as in Forshee’s case, It can become a chronic illness that causes permanent damage.

About the Authors:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.