— 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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.