Kathleen P. Falkenstein, a nurse practitioner and pediatric liver transplantation expert, loved her patients.

While commuting several times each week to New York University to get her doctorate in nursing, Dr. Falkenstein continued to work in pediatrics.

When one of her patients on a transplant list did not have a phone, Dr. Falkenstein drove to the child's home to tell the parents a liver was ready.

And she made sure that children who were coming in from other countries for a transplant had a host family.

Dr. Falkenstein, 57, of Westmont, an associate professor of nursing at Drexel University, died of pancreatic cancer Friday, June 4, a day after being awarded the university's Teachers Excellence Award.

An associate professor at Drexel since 1997, Dr. Falkenstein was a mentor and inspiration to many nursing students.

"Her big thing was she was really here to serve the students," said Mary Ellen Glasgow, associate dean of nursing at Drexel. "Her clinical practice fueled her teaching and research. She wore all three hats."

Dr. Falkenstein also traveled throughout the world, including Bosnia, Croatia, and India, to teach living-donor pediatric liver transplants, a practice that brought her fame in the medical world.

As liver transplant coordinator at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children and most recently at Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Dr. Falkenstein arranged hundreds of transplants.

Some of the famous local cases were that of a Puerto Rican family in which the father donated a softball-sized portion of his liver to his 10-month-old daughter, which was to develop into a full-grown and functioning liver.

Another success story was of a liver taken from a woman in her 30s and split in two to save the lives of an 8-month-old suburban Pennsylvania baby and a 4-year-old from Bolivia.

Dr. Falkenstein always followed up with the families, and in the early days of the transplant program, she hosted Christmas parties at her home for transplant recipients and their families, said her daughter, Kelli Martone.

As kind as Dr. Falkenstein was to the families of organ recipients, she expected the same from the caregivers of the little patients. She was a proponent of doing whatever it took - even placing patients in foster care - to maintain a child's drug regimen after transplantation.

"We just lost a child within the last two weeks, and noncompliance was a big issue," she was quoted as saying in 2001 in the Medical Post, a Canadian magazine. "This child would be alive today if we had taken her out of the home.

Kathleen P. Kinney was born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia and graduated from St. Hubert Catholic High School.

She graduated from St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing in 1973 and started working right away at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.

In 1974, she married Francis T. Falkenstein. The couple divorced in 1993.

Dr. Falkenstein continued her studies while maintaining a full-time job, her daughter said. She attained a bachelor's degree in nursing from La Salle University in 1985, followed by a master's degree in nursing from University of Pennsylvania in 1987.

She then commuted by train or car to New York University until receiving her doctorate in 2003.

From 2000 to 2004, she worked at A.I. duPont Hospital for Children.

For the last nine years, she worked as a nurse practitioner at Haddon Pediatrics in Haddon Heights while continuing to teach at Drexel.

In addition to her daughter, Ms. Falkenstein is survived by sons Francis and Kevin; her mother, Dolores Kinney; three brothers; and two grandchildren.

A viewing will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 9, at Holy Savior Church, 50 Emerald Ave., Westmont.

A Funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 10, at the church. Interment will be in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Berlin.

Donations may be made to Drexel University-Kathleen Falkenstein Scholarship, 1505 Race St., Mail Stop 501, Philadelphia 19102.

Contact staff writer Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917 or cvargas@phillynews.com.