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'Little Darth Vader' to undergo heart surgery at L.A. hospital

June 13, 2012 |  1:30 pm

  The 7-year-old boy known for playing a pint-sized Darth Vader in a  commercial shown during the 2011 Super Bowl will undergo open-heart surgery at a Los Angeles hospital Thursday, officials confirmed.

Max Page, whose family lives in Orange County, will undergo surgery Thursday at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, where doctors will replace a deteriorating pulmonary valve. The surgery is the eighth for Max, who was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect as an infant.

“This is an anticipated operation. It’s not something that came up,” said Dr. Vaughn Starnes, who will perform Thursday's surgery, in a statement. “We tried to preserve his pulmonary valve. ... It has not grown very well so it’s creating a problem for the heart to empty out into the pulmonary arteries. He needs a new valve."

Perhaps better known as "Little Darth Vader," Max donned the signature "Star Wars" suit for a Volkswagen ad that went viral after it aired during the 2011 Super Bowl. He's also had recurring roles on "The Young and The Restless" and works as a junior ambassador for the children's hospital.

His parents, Buck and Jennifer Page, appeared on the "Today Show" to talk about their son's upcoming surgery. Buck Page said the procedure would help Max "tremendously."

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

Jennifer Page said her son was nervous about the procedure but understood it had to be done.

He did make one request, she said. He asked her to buy a Darth Vader headset.

"He said, 'When I'm Darth, I feel strong,'" she said.

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— Kate Mather

twitter.com/katemather

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