6 Making an Advance Care Directive
What is capacity?
Capacity refers to an adult’s ability to make a
decision for him or herself.
Capacity is speciﬁc to the particular decision that
needs to be made. In some circumstances, the law
sets out what tests must be met for capacity to
make certain decisions, for example to consent to
Generally, when a person has capacity to make a
particular decision they can do all of the following:
• understand and believe the facts involved in
making the decision
• understand the main choices
• weigh up the consequences of the choices
• understand how the consequences aect them
• make their decision freely and voluntarily
• communicate their decision.
Can I insist on being given a particular
treatment or procedure?
No. Your health care team will consider your
wishes, but does not have to oer you treatment
that may not beneﬁt you.
What about organ and tissue donation for
Organ donation is a life-saving and life-
transforming medical process. Organ and tissue
donation involves removing organs and tissues
from someone who has died (a donor) and
transplanting them into someone who, in many
cases, is very ill or dying (a recipient).
People 16 years of age or older can register their
donation decision on the Australian Organ Donor
Register at https://www.humanservices.gov.
organ-donor-register or by contacting their local
Centrelink or Medicare Service Centres, myGov
shopfront or Access Points.
It is important that you let your family know
your decisions about organ and tissue donation.
In Australia your family will always be asked to
conﬁrm your donation decisions before organ and
tissue donation can proceed.
Some patients are so severely injured or ill
that they do not respond to lifesaving medical
treatments. The doctors caring for that patient
may agree that they will not survive and that
further medical treatment is no longer of any
beneﬁt to them.
The doctors may then ask their family about that
person’s wishes about organ and tissue donation.
If the person had indicated that they wanted to
become an organ and tissue donor after their
death, the doctors may also ask the family
about several treatments which may be given
before that person dies, only for the purpose of
improving the function of any donated organs
when transplanted. These treatments are of no
medical beneﬁt to the patient and are called
antemortem interventions. Examples include
antibiotics, blood thinning drugs or drugs to
control blood pressure.
If you want to be an organ donor, the Advance
Care Directive asks you to declare your consent to
If you do not consent to antemortem
interventions, it is still possible to be an organ
I’ve heard about Body donation – what is
Body donation is where a person’s body is given
to a body donor program and / or a licensed
anatomical facility either following the person’s
written consent prior to their death or with the
consent of their senior available next of kin
after their death. Bodies maybe used for the
teaching of medical and health students, training
of surgeons in new surgical techniques or for