Max Page, and as Darth Vader (inset)
06/13/2012 at 09:00 AM EDT
Max Page famously – and adorably – channeled The Force
in a popular Super Bowl commercial for Volkswagen, and now the 7-year-old is hoping that the powers will be with him as he undergoes open-heart surgery Thursday.
The operation will be the eighth surgery for Page, who was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect when he was only 3 months old, his parents said on Wednesday's Today
show, hours before Max was set to check into the hospital.
"He's scared and he's nervous" about the procedure, his father, Buck Page, told anchor Ann Curry.
On the night his parents told him about the surgery, to deal with his fear (and disappointment about summer plans he had to cancel), Max and his mother, Jennifer, stayed up late and created a "can-do" list of all the things he'd be able to do during his recovery – including watching movies and playing Nintendo Wii – said Jennifer.
He also had another request.
"He said, 'Well, this house is awfully boring to recover in, so we need to fun it up,' " according to Jennifer.
As a result, each room in the Page house now has a theme that Max can enjoy when he comes home from the hospital.
"The garage is the 'explode zone,' " Jennifer explained. "It's covered in science projects and paint. And every stuffed animal he owns is in the living room waiting for him."
Dr. Vaughn Starnes, the cardiothoracic surgeon who will perform the operation at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, said in a statement, "We tried to preserve his pulmonary valve" in previous procedures. But over time, "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 and that's the planned operation."
In a 2011 Super Bowl ad for the Volkswagen Passat, Page played a pint-sized Darth Vader who believes he uses The Force to start his father's car. He's also had recurring roles on The Young and the Restless
and Prime Suspect
Based on what his doctors have said, Buck Page told Today
: "Max has not known how good he can feel. So this is going to enable him to become even more active, which is hard to believe."