A woman in need of a kidney transplant has been told by medical authorities that she does not have the right to her dead daughter's organs, which have already been passed on to strangers.

Rachel Leake's 21-year-old daughter, Laura, died of an asthma attack last month and because of the sudden nature of her death she could not begin the process of becoming a "living donor", whereby her kidneys could have been transplanted to her mother while she was still alive. Instead, her organs were distributed to strangers at the top of NHS waiting lists.

Laura's dying request was that her mother should have her organs, but Adrian McNeil, the chief executive of the Human Tissue Authority, said that all requests of this nature were being turned down while an ethical review of the procedure is being carried out.

Mrs Leake, 39, said: "I am angry, really angry. I am not finding comfort in the fact that she helped three people ... She would have been so upset that she was not able to help her mum."

Mr McNeil said: "The ethical issue is important as there is a waiting list ... If we go down the path of saying you can direct who gets your kidney after death, what if that person is not as urgent a need as someone on the top of the waiting list?"