Vikki Vargas, Lori Bentley
Eight-year-old Max Page, who has visited many hospital rooms for his congenital heart defect, wants to repay the hospital where he was born. Max and his family will attend the Saddleback Memorial Foundation's Spring Gala on Saturday. Vikki Vargas reports from Laguna Hills for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 17, 2013.
The 8-year-old actor from San Clemente who charmed millions with his portrayal of a pint-sized Darth Vader in a 2011 Super Bowl ad for Volkswagen is planning to give back to the first hospital he said saved his life.
The Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills was home to Max "Little Vader" Page nine years ago, where he was born with a congenital heart defect know as Tetralogy of Fallot.
Max and his family will attend the Saddleback Memorial Foundation's Spring Gala on Saturday, where he will donate some of the money he earned from filming commercials. The family will also kick off a fundraiser for a $40,000 piece of advanced technology called the “Giraffe Omnibed” for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
"All babies need to have a good life," Max told NBC4. "This is one of the ways to save them."
The Giraffe Omnibed converts from a full-featured incubator to a radiant warmer, which helps reduce the stress of moving critically-ill infants -- who weigh only 1 to 3 pounds -- from bed to bed.
After his birth during an emergency C-section, Max spent a week in the center's Intensive Care Unit, and he has had eight surgeries since, including a valve-replacement surgery he underwent last June at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
"Sometimes you forget what you go through and how these little guys fight from the very beginning," said Jennifer Page, Max's mother.
Max's open-heart surgery last year received media attention and public support, and his parents, Buck and Jennifer, used that platform to encourage people to make donations to the hospital's Children's Fund in his name.
Max, who also appeared on "The Young and the Restless" and "Prime Suspect," is an official "junior ambassador" for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, speaking to groups and helping raise money for pediatric research and treatments.
"I'm doing good," Max said. "I actually just got cleared to go on all of the roller coasters I want. I'm a daredevil."
This weekend’s sold-out gala commemorates the 25th anniversary of the center’s opening of the Women's Hospital at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in 1988, and it benefits the center’s Designed for Healing enhancement project.
The gala will be April 20 at the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel at 6 p.m.