Hospital authorities have apologised to parents whose dead daughter's heart was lost in the mail.

Staff at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, mistakenly used the normal post service to send the heart for analysis in January.

Months later Kathy and Gerald Moyle of East Budleigh, Devon, were told their daughter's heart had not arrived at its intended destination in Peterborough. Mr Moyle, 73, said yesterday he agreed the heart could be sent for analysis after the death of his daughter, Roseline, aged 38 in October, but was "appalled" to learn that it was lost in the post.

"I couldn't believe it. I am not happy at all. They have put it in writing that they are very sorry but that doesn't mean anything to us. It is just words."

In a statement, Angela Pedder, the hospital's chief executive, expressed "deep regret" over the loss of the heart.