Shehan Hettiaratchy was born and raised in Hampshire, UK. He was a scholar at Winchester College and, after a gap year as an officer in The Parachute Regiment, he went up to Trinity College, Oxford to read medicine. He graduated as a doctor from Oxford University in 1994 with prizes in both medicine and surgery and a blue in boxing. He underwent basic surgical training in London teaching hospitals and obtained FRCS (Eng) in 1998. Following basic surgical training, Shehan undertook basic science research into an area that he is passionate about, the use of transplantation to reconstruct the human body. He won a prestigious research fellowship at Harvard Medical School, USA, based at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, one of the top-rated institutions in the world. While at Harvard, he developed the first valid pre-clinical model of limb transplantation without long-term immunosuppression. This work formed part of the rationale for the human hand transplant protocol being carried out at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. In recognition of this work, Shehan was honoured with a Hunterian Professorship from the Royal College of Surgeons of England. He also received the Pulvertaft Prize from the British Society of Surgery of the Hand, awards from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, American Association of Hand Surgeons and the Plastic Surgery Research Council. He was awarded a Doctorate of Medicine by Oxford University, one of its highest accolades.