Grinning and cracking jokes at a press conference on Monday announcing his discharge from the hospital, “Little Darth Vader’’ showed that The Force is once again strong with him.
Max Page, 7, who shot to fame after playing a miniature Darth Vader in a popular Volkswagen Passat 2011 Super Bowl commercial is a step closer to ruling his empire again after undergoing open-heart surgery last week.
He faces six to eight weeks of recovery after the two-hour surgery, which replaced the pulmonary valve in his heart on Thursday as a result of a congenital defect that was diagnosed when he was three months old.
"That little boy, he’s still there,’’ his father, Buck Page, told NBC News. “It didn’t change him. He’s full of life, full of energy, engaging, cares about people.’’
“If you use your force and dream big, you can achieve anything,’’ Max said at the press conference. “We may be small, but we're mighty.’’
This was Page’s eighth surgery in seven years, and his first open-heart procedure. He suffers from Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect that limits oxygen in the blood. He will need an operation again in 10 to 15 years to once again replace his valve.
The limited oxygen in his blood had made the active young boy sluggish, a condition the surgery is expected to correct. Max can now gradually return to his whirlwind life, which includes acting in commercials and recurring roles on “The Young and the Restless’’ and “Prime Suspect.’’ He also is an ambassador to Children’s Hospital, helping to raise money for other kids with heart ailments.
“I'm excited about a lot of things — especially having a milkshake,’’ Max joked. “I do feel a little pain in my chest, but not much.’’
“His job now is to get his strength back up, and get his stamina back up to be back in school in the fall right on schedule,’’ Dr. Michael Silka of Children’s Hospital told NBC News.
By Sunday, he was up and walking around in the intensive-care unit, according to a hospital spokeswoman. He also was on blood pressure medication.
“Max had a great night," his mother, Jennifer Page, told a hospital spokesperson Sunday in a report by People.com. "This morning, he is able to get himself out of bed and walk around a little bit."
On Saturday, he wrote a list of goals like sitting in a chair, eating, and walking, according to People.com.
“There's no feeling like when you actually have to hand your child over and you hope that you'll see them alive again,’’ Jennifer told NBC News.
“I was kind of scared, but after I fell asleep I didn't remember anything in the surgery,’’ Max told NBC News.Video: Unmasked! Meet the boy behind Darth Vader (on this page)
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 Super Bowl debut. 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.
To donate to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in Max Page’s name, click here.
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