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May 6, 1983


Author Affiliations

University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Houston

JAMA. 1983;249(17):2328. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330410026015

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To the Editor.—  "She was a fine car in her day, but the next time something breaks...." Anyone who has said this at one time or another (and who hasn't?) should have no trouble accepting Kohn's main points regarding the certification of death in the elderly (1982;247:2793 and 1982; 248:2449). The fact that a tire was the next thing to break carries only limited information beyond the knowledge that the car was old. When a multitude of parts are wearing, sooner or later one of them will be the first to fail, and which one this is may be mostly a matter of chance. Whether a mechanic can or will bother to diagnose the difficulty accurately is also a good question.Yet, the use of fender, door, and fuel-pump explants from salvage yards demonstrates a serious point that researchers in biologic aging have traditionally misunderstood, yet one well known to