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Lil' Vader faces open heart surgery

By Erika Edwards, NBC News | Posted - Jun. 13, 2012 at 3:44 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — The little boy who played Darth Vader in the popular Volkswagon commercial last year is in the hospital, preparing for major heart surgery.

7-year-old Max Page is preparing for heart valve replacement surgery at Children's Hospital Los Angeles on Thursday.

"The artery that carries the blood between the heart and the lungs is still almost the size of an infant's. It's like trying to pump gas through a straw," explains Dr. Michael Silka.

Lil' Vader faces open heart surgery

Max was born with a rare heart condition called "Tetralogy of Fallot."

It's a combination of four defects of the heart's structure.

So far he's been functioning with a pacemaker.

"Max has not known how good he can feel because of the restrictions of his valve. So this is going to enable him to become even more active, which is hard to believe, and help him out tremendously," says Buck Page, his father.

Understandably, it's an emotional time for his parents.

Max has chosen to look on the bright side.


Max has not known how good he can feel because of the restrictions of his valve. So this is going to enable him to become even more active, which is hard to believe.

–Buck Page, Max's dad


He made a list of things to look forward to post-surgery, and has helped his parents turn their home into a fun house to help him through a long recovery.

"The garage is the explode zone," says mother Jennifer Page. "It's covered in science projects and paint."

Max is using his commercial star power to raise money to help other kids with his condition and has traveled to Capitol Hill to lobby against funding cuts which could impact children's hospitals.

Max's heart condition affects about five of every 10,000 babies.

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Erika Edwards
    NBC News

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