Dr. Alfred (Cy) J. Tector
Dr. Alfred (Cy) J. Tector
Few people in our community are as acutely aware of the effects of heart disease as Dr. Alfred Tector. As a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, Tector has seen his share of patients who suffered from heart disease. And he has made it his life's mission to help those patients live longer, healthier lives. Dr. Tector's interest in medicine began when he joined the Army as a young man. He was assigned to the medical corps and discovered a passion for medicine and patient care. When Tector was attending medical school, heart surgery was just in its infancy. "It was a very exciting time to be in cardiac surgery," he remembers. Tector's interest in heart surgery is what brought him to Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in 1970. "Coronary bypass surgery was just starting at that time, and only two places were doing it — The Cleveland Clinic and St. Luke's," says Tector. "When an opportunity opened up at St. Luke's, I took the job right away."
Recalling his first heart transplant in 1984, Tector says, "It's a very difficult experience the first time. There are many things that happen behind the scenes that make a transplant successful. The timing has to be perfect. Everything has to work out as quickly as possible so no time's wasted." Now one of the nation's leading thoracic transplant surgeons, Tector has been involved in more than half of the 600-plus heart transplant cases at St. Luke's and is at the forefront in employing devices that assist the sickest heart patients. His innovative approaches to thoracic surgery gained national attention for their success rates.
Tector has been on staff at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center for more than 37 years. In 1986 he performed the state's first implant of a total artificial heart. Under his leadership, St. Luke's was named one of the top 10 hospitals in the nation for volume of adult heart transplants and best one-year survival rates. When asked about his accomplishments over the years, Tector is humble. "There are many people who have helped me throughout my career. Without the support of fellow physicians, the people of St. Luke's and my family, I never could have accomplished what I did."
Even with all of these accomplishments, the patients are at the center of everything that he does. "It is inspiring to see patients who once came to you very sick now functioning normally, living happy lives," he says. "This is what makes me realize that it's all worth it. It's what inspires me to continue to work hard to achieve more."
The Wisconsin Historical Society celebrated the lifetime achievements of Dr. Alfred (Cy) Tector, along with four other individuals with Wisconsin ties, during the History Makers Gala in Milwaukee on May 14, 2008. Tector received the Rosa Minoka Hill Award for Distinction in Medicine.