Matt Cwiertny was a 24-year-old vibrant, artistic, fun-loving, soccer player/fan who fought to overcome an immune system disorder that made him vulnerable to the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). Because there is not a vaccine for EBV,  the virus overwhelmed Matt's immune system on many occasions, leading him to develop EBV-HLH. HLH, also known as hemophagocytic syndrome, is a disorder of unregulated activation of lymphohistiocytic cells that results in hemophagocytosis, hypercytokinemia, and multi-organ (e.g., spleen, liver, lung, brain or other vital organs) disfunction, which without early treatment results in death. After a number of very severe battles with EBV-associated HLH, Matt developed non-Hodgkin’s NK T-cell lymphoma (cancer). In an attempt to cure his EBV-associated cancer, he underwent numerous rounds of chemotherapy and ultimately a bone marrow transplant at City of Hope in Duarte, California in late 2008. Sadly, in mid-2009, the disease returned and Matt became seriously ill with NK T-cell lymphoma of the brain, which necessitated several rounds of radiation. While fighting a very severe episode of EBV-HLH, after a dozen rounds of radiation that significantly weakened his immune system, Matt succumbed to his extremely rare EBV-associated diseases and passed away on October 3, 2009 surrounded by his family and loved ones.


- Matt Cwiertny

Matthew Aaron Cwiertny

Birthday: February 14th

Nicknames: Zwitnee, Matty, C-Dub

Schools Attended: St. Bonaventure, Mater Dei High School, UC Santa Barbara,  UC Irvine

Major: Art Studio   Minor: Art History

Favorite Musical Artists: Jack’s Mannequin, The 88, Beck, Moby, Keane, The Dandy Warhols, Coldplay, Jack Johnson, The Bravery, Avril Lavigne and too many more to mention.

Favorite Sports Teams: AS Roma, LA Galaxy, Anaheim Angels

Favorite Restaurants/Food: The Hat (Pastrami), John’s Philly Grille (Cheesesteaks), BJ's (Pizookies), CPK (BBQ Chicken Pizza)

Favorite Quote: “When you’re young, you spend all your time wishing you were older. When you’re old, you spend all your time wishing you were young.” -- Señora Pankenier

Matt’s Photography

Anyone who knew Matt knew that he was a very creative person. In his later years, Matt’s creativity found a perfect outlet in still photography. Wherever he went, it was almost certain that he would have his camera with him. Here is a small sampling of the photos Matt took on his journeys.