With an audience in the neighborhood of 100 million people, it’s no surprise that advertisers pull out all the stops for their Super Bowl ads, especially when it is reported that half the viewers watch the game for the commercials alone. The most popular commercial last night, by many accounts, was a Volkswagen commercial where a young boy tries to “channel his inner Darth Vader”:
Who is the boy behind the mask? It’s 6-year-old Max Page, who was a member of the cast of “The Young and the Restless” from 2009-10 playing Reed Hellstrom. At 3 months of age, Max was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot. He underwent heart surgery at Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. His mother, Jennifer, told Matt and Meridith on the Today show this morning:
“He had his first surgery when he was 3 months old at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. They saved his life and gave him back to us about a week after his first surgery. He had to have a pacemaker put in, so he has maintenance on that.”
According to his surgeon, Dr. Michael Silka, “Max’s prognosis going forward is very good. He can essentially have normal activity and with careful care, a full life is a reasonable expectation.”
Tetralogy (teh-TRAL-o-je) of Fallot (fah-LO) is a congenital heart defect, which is a problem with the heart’s structure that’s present at birth. This type of heart defect changes the normal flow of blood through the heart. Tetralogy of Fallot is a rare, complex heart defect that occurs in about 5 out of every 10,000 babies. It affects boys and girls equally.
Tetralogy of Fallot involves four heart defects:
Together, these four defects mean that not enough blood is able to reach the lungs to get oxygen, and oxygen-poor blood flows out to the body.
Babies and children who have tetralogy of Fallot have episodes of cyanosis (si-a-NO-sis), a bluish tint to the skin, lips, and fingernails. Cyanosis occurs because the oxygen level in the blood is below normal.
Tetralogy of Fallot must be repaired with open-heart surgery, either soon after birth or later in infancy. The timing of the surgery depends on how severely the pulmonary valve is narrowed.
Surgery to repair tetralogy of Fallot is done to improve blood flow to the lungs and to make sure that oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood flows to the right places. The surgeon will:
Fixing these two defects resolves problems caused by the other two defects. When the right ventricle no longer has to work so hard to pump blood to the lungs, it will return to a normal thickness. Fixing the VSD means that only oxygen-rich blood will flow out of the left ventricle into the aorta.
Over the past few decades, the diagnosis and treatment of tetralogy of Fallot have greatly improved. As a result, most children who have this heart defect survive to adulthood.
For more information about Tetralogy of Fallot, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic