Child who played 'Little Darth Vader' receives new heart valve

Max Page portrayed "little Darth Vader" in a 2011 Super Bowl commercial.

- Child actor Max Page, who portrayed "little Darth Vader" in a 2011 Super Bowl commercial, has received a new heart valve and is due to have a pacemaker implanted in a few days, Children's Hospital Los Angeles announced Thursday.

The new valve, which was implanted on July 30, enables the 10-year-old to avoid open-heart surgery, hospital officials said. Max will have a second procedure Sept. 1, when CHLA surgeons will implant the new pacemaker.

Max suffers from a congenital heart disease and was recently diagnosed with a condition that was restricting blood flow from the right ventricle of his heart into his lungs due to a narrowing of the pulmonary valve, which had
been surgically implanted in 2012.

"We had a great result; Max has a new heart valve, and we hope it will last a long time," said pediatric cardiologist Frank Ing, co-director of CHLA's Heart Institute and leader of the team that performed the three-hour
procedure on July 30. "His pulmonary valve function has been restored and we avoided open-heart surgery."

On Sept. 1, Max will have a procedure at CHLA to replace his pacemaker pulse generator. The device, implanted in the abdominal wall, will keep track of his heart rhythm through electrodes sewn to the heart. Also, it stimulates
the heart muscle with an electrical impulse to maintain the appropriate heart rate for whatever activity Max is doing at the time.

Cardiologists successfully implanted a Melody Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve on July 30, and Max was discharged from the hospital the next day.

"It's just amazing to think Max can receive a new heart valve and be out of the hospital in 24 hours," said his father, Buck Page. "The last time we were here for open-heart surgery, he had a 10-inch chest scar and he was on morphine for three days ..."

Born with a congenital heart defect, Max had his first surgery at age 3 months. The Melody Valve procedure was his 10th operation.

The Melody Valve was granted premarket approval this year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but has been used in children as a federally designated humanitarian device intervention for several years.

The primary benefit of the procedure in children is that it can increase considerably the time between surgeries, allowing children an opportunity to grow so cardiologists and surgeons can use adult-sized devices, reducing the
need to replace them as young patients grow older, officials said.

Had the Melody device not been a viable option, Max would have been scheduled for open-heart surgery to implant a new pulmonary valve.

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