"Little Vader" Undergoes Successful Heart Surgery

Max Page will spend a few days in the hospital before he goes home

Friday, Jun 15, 2012  |  Updated 8:30 AM CDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Max Page, the child actor best known for playing a mini version of Darth Vader in a 2011 Super Bowl ad for Volkswagen, underwent a successful surgery Thursday at Children's Hospital L.A. to replace his pulmonary valve. Cary Berglund reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on June 14, 2012.

Cary Berglund

Max Page, the child actor best known for playing a mini version of Darth Vader in a 2011 Super Bowl ad for Volkswagen, underwent a successful surgery Thursday at Children's Hospital L.A. to replace his pulmonary valve. Cary Berglund reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on June 14, 2012.

Photos and Videos

Little Vader's Heart Problem Explained

The boy who played the mini version of Darth Vader in a popular 2011 Super Bowl commercial underwent surgery Thursday to correct a heart problem. Dr. Bruce Hensel explains what doctors did and what comes next for Max Page on the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on June 14, 2012.
More Photos and Videos

Max Page, the 7-year-old actor best known for  playing a "mini-Darth Vader" in a 2011 Super Bowl ad for Volkswagen, underwent successful surgery to replace his pulmonary valve Thursday at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

"The surgery today went very well," according to Dr. Vaughn Starnes, who performed the operation and is co-director of The Heart Institute at CHLA.

"The surgery took two hours without complications, and he is recovering very well in cardiac ICU," he said.

Hospital spokesman Lorenzo Benet said Max was expected to remain  hospitalized until early next week. The recovery time for the operation is about six to eight weeks, he said.

Max's mother, Jennifer Page, said it was a nerve-wracking morning, but the surgery apparently went "extremely well."

"The next 48 hours are so crucial in Max's recovery," she said. "We love the outpouring of support that everyone has shown, and the kindness from strangers, family and friends."

Max, who also appears on "The Young and the Restless" and "Prime Suspect," was upbeat when he and his family talked to reporters at the hospital Wednesday.

Asked by his mother what he was looking forward to after the surgery, he said, "Well, I'm looking forward to -- because I love baseball, my dad says I'm gonna be a first-round draft pick."

Max was born with a congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot. Doctors said the valve-replacement surgery was something that has long been anticipated -- it was just a matter of time.

Starnes said efforts had been made to preserve Max's pulmonary valve, but it deteriorated over time.

"It has not grown very well so it's creating a problem for the heart to empty out into the pulmonary arteries,'' Starnes said.

Jennifer Page said her son was frightened at first but knew the operation was inevitable.

"He took time to cry, he took time to be scared and then he really jumped on board and was like, 'Let's just figure out what I can do and let's  just do that,'" she said.

Max has been treated at the hospital since he was an infant. He is now an official "junior ambassador" for the hospital, speaking to groups and helping raise money for pediatric research and treatments. He has also visited Washington, D.C., to help oppose cuts to Medicaid.

His family is encouraging people to make donations to the hospital's Children's Fund in Max's name.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Get Our Weather App
Stay ahead of the storm with the NBC... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out