LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Days after a major heart operation, 13-year-old Max Page walked the halls of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, his thoughts with his fellow patients.
"I just try to advocate for kids like me," Page said.
That advocacy has taken him all the way to Capitol Hill. Max's testimony before lawmakers helped bring about a six-year extension of funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program.
The "CHIP" program guarantees coverage for kids in need.
Just recently, the young actor was about to go to D.C. again when doctors determined he needed immediate surgery.
"We had no idea Max was going to need this valve," his mother, Jennifer Page, said.
"We got a really big valve in there, so it's good. It should last me a long time," added Max.
Max first became widely known as the "Vader Kid" from a memorable 2011 Super Bowl commercial. In it, he wears a mini Darth Vader costume and tries to use the "Force" to start his father's car in the driveway.
It was a fun experience and nice break for Max, who has been in and out of the hospital and has undergone several surgeries in his young life.
He was born with a complex heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. It's the same combination of heart defects that affects Jimmy Kimmel's son.
Kimmel has also championed federal health coverage programs for children.
The heart condition causes oxygen-poor blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.
"Certainly, in the early years, it's a lot of surgeries, a lot of costs, a lot of diagnostic studies, and most families just can't handle that cost," said Dr. Vaughn Starnes, of Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
And it's a long journey for families of children with chronic illnesses.
"My battle is going to be forever. I was born with it, I'm going to keep it my entire life," Max said. "It's something that's not going to go away."
Thanks to medical breakthroughs, 1.5 million people today are living with congenital heart disease. That means the care has to last for a lifetime. "What we're advocating for is children's health care in general, and we want to make sure that Medicaid stays intact the way it is for kids," Jennifer Page said.
She expects they'll both be back in Washington this summer.
"I just want everybody like me to be safe and to know that their job is to get home and is to heal, and that they don't have to worry about anything financial," Max added.
'Vader Kid' from memorable Super Bowl commercial advocates for children's health
CIRCLE OF HEALTH
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