6-Year-Old with Heart Defect Plays Darth Vader in Super Bowl Ad

Max Pagehasm was the little man behind the Darth Vader mask in a VW commercial

Monday, Feb 7, 2011  |  Updated 10:33 AM CDT
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A 6-year-old heart patient from Children's Hospital Los Angeles appeared in a Super Bowl commercial Sunday, playing Darth Vader in a car commercial.

Max Pagehasm, who is also part of the cast of "The Young and the Restless" was the little "man behind the Darth Vader mask'' in a Volkswagen ad that aired during Super Bowl XLV.

Max took off his mask Monday on TODAY. He said he had never seen Star Wars, so he didn't know a lot about the character he was playing.

In 24 hours, the number of YouTube hits to the TV commercial -- created by LA-based Deutsch Inc. -- went from 1.5 million on Thursday to more than 7 million on Friday. The number of views reached more than 13.7 million Sunday evening.

Make that, 15.6 million Monday morning.

"I can't even keep up with the messages and the calls," his mother, Jennifer, said. "It's just overwhelming."

When Max was just 4 months old, he was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect. His parents, Buck and Jennifer Page, brought Max to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, where he received a pacemaker.

"Max's prognosis going forward is very good,'' said Dr. Michael Silka, head of the hospital's Division of Cardiology and Max's pediatric cardiologist. "He can essentially have normal activity and with careful care, a full life is a reasonable expectation.''

Max's parents see the attention as an opportunity to reach out to parents whose children suffer from heart conditions.

"When we first received the diagnosis, we were lost,'' Buck Page said.

Going through the experience, they learned how traumatic it can be as a parent of a child with a serious ailment.

They said they hoped that in sharing their experience, they can help other parents of sick children understand they are not alone.

"Before our experience with Max, I would walk through the hospital and see sick children and be afraid to look at them,'' Buck Page said. "Now, I make a point to look them all in the eye and say, 'Hello.'"

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