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Image: Little Darth Vader, Max Page
Max Page, 7, will undergo open-heart surgery in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
TODAY contributor
updated 6/12/2012 4:02:16 PM ET 2012-06-12T20:02:16

May the Force be with him.

Max Page, the 7-year-old who played a miniature Darth Vader in Volkswagen’s popular Super Bowl commercial in 2011, will check in to the Children's Hospital Los Angeles on Wednesday to repair a congenital heart defect, according to ad agency Deutsch LA. The goal of the surgery is to repair a hole in his heart and replace his pulmonary valve.

Video: ‘Little Darth Vader’ to undergo heart surgery (on this page)

Max appeared with his mother, Jennifer Page, on TODAY in February 2011 after the Super Bowl ad gained instant fame. In the ad, Max dresses as a mini Darth Vader and attempts to use the Force around the house to no avail before being surprised that he can start his father’s Volkswagen with the wave of a hand.

Story: ‘Little Darth Vader’ reveals face behind the Force

At the time of his interview with Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, Max said he had never seen any of the “Star Wars” movies. His mother also mentioned that Max had been diagnosed with a heart defect when he was only a few months old and was using a pacemaker.

‘Star Wars’ fans fix up Luke’s Tattooine home

Max has been serving as an ambassador for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, working to raise money for other children with heart defects. In an email released by the Deutsch LA ad agency, Jennifer Page talks about her son’s fear of his upcoming surgery and describes how his family has been helping him prepare for the procedure:

Video: Use the force, young Vader (on this page)

“We told Max and Els [Max's brother] Sunday afternoon. Initially, Max was crying and repeating how scared how he was. We unpeeled the layers by asking what exactly he was afraid of and tackled each issue as he could verbalize it. Blood draws, spending the night in the hospital and hurting are the big three. He was also very sad that summer would be in rest in recovery instead of playing baseball, golf and traveling.

“Around bedtime he asked if I would stay up with him and talk. He wanted to make a ‘CAN DO’ list. So we wrote out all the things he can do so he could focus on those. Then he said we definitely had to ‘Fun Up’ the house. So we went and got Els out of bed and spent the next hour redesigning each room with a theme, special rules and secret codes. In the Library (Els’ Room) we have to read with flashlights. On Whisper Lane (the hallway) you have to whisper. Going up the stairs you have to sing ‘Take me out to the ball game.’ The most favorite is the garage — Explode Zone — science experiments and art projects, the messier the better.

Video: Unmasked! Meet the boy behind Darth Vader (on this page)

“Last night, I wanted to make sure he was doing as well as he seemed. He said, ‘Mom I don’t have a choice. I have to go through it. I don’t like it and it’s still scary — but I have to. So I think I might as well go through it with a good attitude.’ So as we hop on Max’s coattails to go on this ride — we too, shall do it with a good attitude. Though we will still tremble with tears and have our overwhelming moments — we will focus on the ‘CAN DO’ and enjoy our Fun Up House.

Story: Tour de ‘Force’: Star Wars fans unite for ailing infant

“Mighty Max wants me to include one more thing — one of the lines he uses when he speaks to groups.

“‘Kids, if you use your FORCE and dream big, you can achieve anything. We may be small — but we’re mighty!’”

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: ‘Little Darth Vader’ to undergo heart surgery


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