Lasting Impact: Couple to donate bodies, most of estate to OSU-CHS
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 | email@example.com
“It seemed like the right thing.”
That’s what Scott Blakemore and his partner Kevin Gabel said about deciding to leave most of their estate to the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences and their bodies to the OSU-CHS Body Donor Program after they pass away.
Both said it’s a way to say thank you and to give back for the care they’ve received at OSU Medicine clinics.
“One thing we like about receiving care at OSU — you’re not a number,” Gabel said. “It’s not a revolving door, you’re not pushed in and pushed out. It’s much more personalized.”
Blakemore said the medical care from OSU is unmatched.
“I think I get better care at OSU than at the bigger health systems in Tulsa,” Blakemore said. “They make an effort to get to know you.”
And, he said, they accommodate the needs of their patients.
“I’m that patient who comes in with a list of things I want to talk about, and if they’re backed up or have a tight schedule that day, they’ll schedule a longer appointment to go over questions and concerns,” Blakemore said. “And the case managers call you. They take care of their charges.”
Blakemore and Gabel became patients at OSU in 2013. Among their health care team was Dr. Damon Baker — now chief medical officer at OSU Medical Center and chair of the internal medicine department — and OSU-CHS President Johnny Stephens. Stephens and Baker were instrumental in providing medical care to the couple while working in the internal medicine department.
“I see them outside of the clinic scene, and they always make a point to say hello. We’re friends,” Blakemore said.
Both had earlier ties to the university and attended OSU at one time — Gabel was an architecture student while Blakemore worked and was enrolled in the speech communication program as well as serving as the founding president of the Gay and Lesbian Student Organization at OSU.
Blakemore stayed in Stillwater and was director of the gymnastics program at the YMCA in addition to working at OSU, where he also assisted with the gymnastics portion of the physical education degree program.
The two met in Tulsa in 1984 and hit it off right away.
“But we were always dating someone else — for 10 years,” Blakemore said.
Their friendship became something more after a trip to Stillwater and dinner at Leo’s Peking Restaurant at Cowboy Mall, now student housing.
“Kevin called me and said ‘We’re coming up to have dinner, do you want to join us?’ and then that was all she wrote,” Blakemore said.
Blakemore moved to Tulsa in 1995 and worked in the hospitality industry as a server and administrator. Gabel worked in sales and was a manager of Novel Idea bookstore.
Both are now retired or semi-retired and thinking about their legacy.
“We wanted to make a gift to a program where it would make a lasting and significant impact,” Gabel said.
Their estate will go to the President’s Excellence Fund, which is administered by the OSU-CHS president to utilize where there is the greatest need.
And the two are thrilled to see the advancement of their former care team, who are now leaders at OSU-CHS and the OSU Medical Center.
“I’m so proud. Their success fills me with joy because their friendship brings me joy,” Blakemore said. “To see the ones who were breaking ground early on stay and grow with the institution is a testament to this place.”
Gabel agrees and said it’s impressive to see not only the success of their friends, but also the institution they help lead.
“It’s exciting to see them grow with the progress of the school and health system,” he said. “The thing I find most exciting is the expansion of the medical school and the continued development of the medical center campus in downtown Tulsa with the addition of the VA hospital and the state mental health hospital. That’s what we want to be a part of.”
Their final gift to OSU-CHS will be the donation of their bodies to be used to teach anatomy to future physicians, physician assistants and athletic training students.
“We can help teach the up-andcoming medical students and health professionals, that’s why we will be leaving our bodies for medical research,” Blakemore said. “I believe that when my body goes into the ground it decays and goes away, so why not get the best use out of it.”
Thom Garrison, director of the OSU-CHS Body Donor Program, said those who donate their body understand how important that final gift is to students and their future patients.
“They know how important it is to study different bodies and different diseases. If somebody can learn how to find better treatments or if they can cure diseases, they want to be a part of that,” Garrison said. “It’s an honor and privilege to have them here. They lived a life and gave a wonderful gift to us.”
For Gabel, it’s the legacy they will leave behind.
“Again, it’s the lasting impact,” he said. “We want to create a lasting impact on as many people as we can.”
To support OSU Center for Health Sciences, visit osugiving.com/your-passion/health-sciences. For more information on the OSU-CHS Body Donor Program, contact Thom Garrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OSU-CHS celebrates 50th anniversary for OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine
For more articles from this edition of STATE magazine on OSU Medicine:
OSU-CHS growing footprint in Tulsa, NE Oklahoma: https://okla.st/3PXGbq8
OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine's legacy is growing: https://okla.st/3AFEAzL
Athletic trainers fill critical roles for teams, patients: https://okla.st/3RtpEvn
Photos by: Matt Barnard
Story by: Sara Plummer | STATE Magazine