Finding ancestors could be key to saving a 10-year-old boy

By Guest, 4 April 2018 - 3:15pm

An American boy suffering from a rare disease could be saved by the bone marrow of an ancestor’s modern family

Alex Sims with his father, grandmother and great grandparents. Credit: Sims family

Alex Sims, 10, and his family from Florida are seeking a distant relative to Alex for a possible bone marrow donor to help him survive a rare disease.

Alex has IPEX Syndrome, an auto immune disorder which has only 211 diagnosed cases around the world.

Alex’s grandmother Cheryl Sims said: “There are only nine survivors (of IPEX) and Alex is one of them, but we're racing against the clock to find a bone marrow donor before IPEX takes another little boy's life.”

So far there have been no matching donors for Alex either in the donor registry or his immediate family. However, doctors have said that a genetic ancestry donor would have a greater chance of being a match for Alex than donors with no relation.

Cheryl Sims explained: “The direct ancestors we are aware of are from the families of Searle, Churchward, Eales, Bowden, Lidstone and Chaffe.”

The Sims are directly connected to the families of Richard Searle (born 1819) and Susanna Churchward (born 1819).

Their children were:

• Betsy (born 1838) who married William Lidstone.

• Susan (born 1843) who lived in the US and married Charles Whitaker. 

• Selina (born 1846) married James Petherbridge.

• James Border or J.B. Searle (born 1841) married Eleanor Hamlyn Churchward and later lived and died in the US.

• Richard Searle (born 1851) an auctioneer in Islington he married Emily Pleace & Fannie Huntley.

• George (born 1849), a Land Surveyor who married Ellen Walmsley.

• Samuel, a dentist in London who married Caroline Radley. 

This is all based on documentation that connects Alex’s 4x great grandmother, Elizabeth Searle (born in 1838) and his 3x great grandfather, Richard Searle (born 1866) to the Searle family born in Buckfastleigh, Devon.

How Elizabeth is related to the Searle family is not known.

According to Cheryl Sims: “She may be a sibling or an in-law of the Searle family. If she is an in-law we need to find out her maiden name, who she married or who Richard’s father was. That information might help us identify Elizabeth’s ancestors and another branch of the family to reach out to.”

Family legend says that Elizabeth took Richard to the USA before later getting married to Joseph Whitaker, her sister’s (Susan Searle) husband’s brother. She then attempted to return to England around 1879-80 for a visit but died in a shipwreck, leaving Richard in the USA with his stepfather, Joseph Whitaker.

Richard Searle (now Whitaker) became an Arkansas State Senator and spent 20 years on the Board of Arkansas State Agricultural College.

Alex’s family asks that if anyone has any information relating to the Searle family to contact them at

Anyone who wishes to donate bone marrow aged 16-30 should register with Anthony Nolan or at Alex’s website .

Older donors can register at Delete Blood Cancer or with the British Bone Marrow Registry.


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