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Video: ‘Little Darth Vader’ undergoes successful surgery

  1. Closed captioning of: ‘Little Darth Vader’ undergoes successful surgery

    >>> brought you earlier this week. max page , the young boy who played darth vader in a successful super bowl ad is roving from open- heart surgery this morning. michelle franzen has more on this story. michelle, good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning, ann. max remains in icu. the first 48 hours following open- heart surgery like this are the most critical. max is showing incredible strength and doing fine so far. his mom gave us an e-mail update in the last few hours saying max is awake at times, talking, and looking forward to going home . max page , the little boy behind the darth vader mask in the famous volkswagen super bowl commercial put on a brave face to undergo open- heart surgery , doctors say with flying colors .

    >> we're very pleased with his progress and outcome. i think everybody was calm. i think max was more calm than the parents actually.

    >> reporter: his parents jennifer and buck said in a statement it was max who offered them comfort and laughed heading into surgery. holding onto his stuffed animals and his brother's hand, his mom said he told everyone, it's okay. i'm not scared. it's the same upbeat attitude max displayed at home just days before, running around and running through the can do list he created of things he plans to do while recovering this summer.

    >> hide and seek , scavenger hunt .

    >> what do you think is going to be the best part after you're done with the surgery? you have a lot on that list you need to do.

    >> i think i'll just be able to do much more stuff then.

    >> reporter: the seven-year-old was born with a congenital heart defect that affects one in 1,000 children born each year. doctors say the valve in max's pulmonary artery was underdeveloped. doctors inserted a new valve helping his heart function and helping max to be like other kids.

    >> running and playing was becoming more difficult for him. as we know max, he was a real competitor so he wanted to keep up with his friends.

    >> doctors say they expect max to make a full recovery, but he'll have to rest at home at least six weeks. he'll do that in mom and dad 's bed when you funned up before the surgery.

    >> he looked around and said if i'm going to be in the house all summer, it needs to be more fun. waiting for the force to return. doctors expect max to stay here for a few more days, about a total of five days. they say that replacement valve should last anywhere between 10 and 15 years, which, ann, we'll make sure max gets time to enjoy being a kid until he becomes an adult.

    >> good news he's out of the surgery and doing better. michelle franzen , thank you so much this morning.

Image: Actor Max Page speaks at news conference at Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Mario Anzuoni  /  REUTERS
Max Page, 7, speaks at a news conference at Children's Hospital Los Angeles on Wednesday before his procedure.
TODAY contributor
updated 6/15/2012 7:54:14 AM ET 2012-06-15T11:54:14

After undergoing open-heart surgery with no complications on Thursday, “Little Darth Vader’’ is on the road to recovery.

Max Page, the 7-year-old actor who portrayed a pint-sized Darth Vader in a popular Volkswagen Passat ad during the Super Bowl in 2011, is recovering in the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles after a two-hour open-heart surgery on Thursday. Page had the surgery to address a congenital defect that was diagnosed when he was 3 months old.

“The surgery today went very well,’’ said cardiothoracic surgeon Vaughn Starnes, who performed the procedure, in a statement released by a hospital spokesman. “We had to replace his pulmonary valve, which we did without incident.”

Video: Unmasked! Meet the boy behind Darth Vader (on this page)
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The doctors used a “porcine manufactured valve” — essentially a pig valve — which was the size of a small adult’s pulmonary valve. Page is expected to remain in intensive care through Thursday night and then will most likely be transferred out of the unit on Friday. He is expected to be in the hospital for another five days, the hospital spokesman said.

“The surgery went extremely well,’’ Jennifer Page, Max’s mother, said in a statement. “We love the outpouring of support that everyone has shown. The kindness of strangers, family and friends has been tremendous.”

Video: YouTube’s most-watched videos of 2011 revealed

Max’s sunny disposition, which led him to create a “Can Do’’ list and fun zones around the house in the nerve-wracking days leading up to the surgery, helped him get through Thursday.

“Last night Max spent all night making us laugh, and even this morning, while he was laying there waiting for this, he kept telling us, ‘Everything is going to be fine,’ ’’ Max’s father, Buck Page, said in a statement.

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

After he is released from the hospital, Max is expected to need another six to eight weeks of recovery. This was his eighth surgery in seven years. He suffers from Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect that causes too little oxygen to be present in the blood.

Image: Max Page as Darth Vader
Max Page is pictured in his star-making turn as Darth Vader in the 2011 Volkswagen ad.

Max gained notoriety when he appeared unmasked on TODAY in February 2011 after being the star of an ad that went viral on YouTube leading up its debut during the Super Bowl. In the commercial, 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 — unaware that Dad, watching through a window, has started the car via remote control.

In addition to his work in commercials and recurring roles on “The Young and the Restless’’ and “Prime Suspect,’’ Max is an ambassador to Children’s Hospital, helping to raise money for other children with heart issues.

To donate to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in Max Page’s name, click here.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints


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