‘Her mission lives on’: New Milford mother of three in need of liver transplant dies

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox
Cyndi Define of New Milford

Cyndi Define of New Milford

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NEW MILFORD — “She was the kindest, caring, most giving individual,” said Kimberly Silvay, when describing her close friend Cyndi Renna Define, who died Thursday of end-stage liver disease. She was 51.

On a Facebook page called Cyndi’s Liver Transplant Journey, Define’s brother David Renna wrote “Cyndi has now embarked on her journey to heaven to be with our parents. She passed early this morning peacefully.”

Define, a single mother of three with stage 4 liver cirrhosis, went public with her search for a living liver donor in March.

Define was eligible for a transplant for a living donor up until about six weeks ago, according to Silvay, a Sherman resident, who wanted to be a donor herself.

“I had gone through the whole process with Yale New Haven Hospital and I was in the midst of getting all my paperwork to go and have my blood work done, and I came down with COVID,” Silvay said.

On the Facebook post earlier in the week, Renna wrote Define was initially being treated at Yale New Haven Hospital and was then transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on April 23, where she spent her last days.

For the past few months, Define had kept in close touch with New Fairfield resident Caitlin Balint, who recently received a donated liver — and they bonded.

“After her article came out, I reached out to her and asked her if there is anything I can do to help, to let me know,” Balint said.

The two women spoke every other week on the phone, and shared stories.

“Listening to her symptoms, I felt like she was on the same path as I was,” Balint said.

Define always seemed to stay positive and strong, according to Balint.

“She said, ‘I’m going to beat it. I know there’s a liver out there for me,’” Balint said. “She was really optimistic and was trying to fight.”

Prior to having children, Define spent more than a decade as a hairstylist at Adam Broderick hair salon and spa in Ridgefield.

“She was here almost from the beginning and worked for quite awhile, and helped grow the business,” Broderick said.

Broderick and Define became very close.

“We just hit it off. She was just lovely and became a personal friend,” Broderick said. “She got very friendly with my sister and babysat for my nephew Chad.

Broderick said Define was a positive and wonderful person.

“She was just a very grateful, caring person. She was somebody that you always would go out of your way to spend time with,” he said

He added Define was an excellent hair stylist.

“She was liked by everyone — co-workers and clients together. She was one of those people that nothing was a problem,” he said. “She really one of a kind, she had a very special, sparkly personality but was sensitive and deep. She was very special and she’ll be missed.”

Anthony Primavera, Define’s fiancee, recalls fond memories of Define’s love of entertaining and making sure everything reflected the theme of the event “in delightful design,” he said.

He also reflected on their times attending Danbury Whalers and Hat Tricks games together, with all their kids and friends.

Renna recalled “a wonderful childhood growing up” with Define and “the joy and excitement she had when she knew it was close to going to Disney World.”

He added that, as a mother, she carried her family tradition onto her own children and shared that same excitement and joy she had growing up.

New Milford resident Karen Walsh, who was friends with Define for 18 years, said Define wanted to educate others about liver disease.

“Cyndi told me recently that her wishes were to bring awareness to others about liver disease, which she began to achieve recently by posting and publishing her own story,” Walsh said. “She wanted to encourage others with liver disease not to procrastinate, and get their stories and pleas out to the public.”

Walsh said she will greatly miss her friend.

“We were very close, like sisters, for many years. She was a special, spiritually strong woman,” Walsh said. “Cyndi’s liver transplant journey may have ended but her mission lives on to help others in need of a liver transplant.”